Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What is a viewshed?

A viewshed is a term used widely in urban planning and is used by SEH in the handouts available at the Comprehensive Plan meeting on August 11th. A viewshed refers to an area visible to an observer from a certain vantage point. It usually includes elements of natural interest and precludes unwanted visual incursions like tall buildings, towers, and scattered, poorly sited commercial buildings. The Town of Russell’s premier viewshed is the view of surrounding wildlife, trees, and Lake Superior that people presently enjoy from Highway 13 on the scenic drive to Red Cliff and Bayfield from the west. Preserving this viewshed requires a commitment to ensure that the area’s unique natural setting is kept intact and not undermined by the sight of new structures looming over the trees, or commercial buildings dotting the roadside.

To preserve the viewshed in Russell, commercial development should be clustered in or adjacent to the Town of Red Cliff, rather than strung along a narrow, 3 mile strip along Highway 13. A clustered commercial development would not only improve aesthetics, but also promote easy vehicular and pedestrian access. A good urban planner can assist with the design of a well thought out, visually appealing and consumer friendly, commercial village design that would appeal to current residents, and promote tourist shopping.

Our next post: How this applies to the Shadow Wood Development.

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