Send in your nominations for ugliest subdivision

Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel

By Lauren Ritchie
Published on Monday, January 23, 2006


Don't come home drunk.

That's Rule No. 1 for living in a truly hideous BUD.

BUD is an acronym that stands for Butt Ugly Development -- those cookie-cutter, treeless subdivisions that are taking over Lake County.

If you come home three sheets to the wind (my mother's quaint phrase), chances are good that you'll blast through the wrong front door, stagger into the wrong bed, and oh-my-goodness! Think of the consequences!

Stop BUDs!

But first, we must identify the offensive BUDs among us. We must know their locations, their architecture, their colors, where their children attend school, how they are disguised, their size and very important, their names.

Then we must make fun of them in unison. They are, after all, the slums of tomorrow. We must shame their developers into building something worthy of the lakes and hills that truly represent this county.

Developers can build affordable housing that isn't repulsive and still make money. Ask Randall Arndt, the nationally known "smart growth" guru.

But they won't make as much money as they would if they send endless crews of cheap labor out to pour slab after slab for identical houses. These aren't craftsmen or home builders. They are guys playing with big Tinker Toys that you'll eventually live inside.

Developers want to maximize the buck.

Let's say you live in a BUD, and you know it. I'm guessing you would rather have had something more pastoral and more creatively designed. But it's what you could pay for. No shame in that. Everybody's got to live somewhere, and this beats a U.S. Highway 441 underpass.

In a real-estate market as hot as Lake's, the responsibility falls to the county and city governments to demand something better. But they haven't done it. What a shame.

Let's get to work. You nominate the BUDs. Send a note and a picture. I'll decide which is the worst -- with the help of some distinguished panelists yet to be named.

Use these criteria:

Appearance. Do the houses have a uniform appearance? Are the color schemes and architecture similar? Is the color dull tan or battleship gray? YES! You're on your way to becoming a winner. Could you come home after one glass of wine and find your abode without difficulty? How about after four glasses?

Landscaping. Has the developer taken down every tree in sight? Extra points! Do the homes have sprinklers to feed the St. Augustine grass that needs more water than Hoover Dam? More points! Are the bushes straggly and few? Are the trees less than 2 inches in diameter? The more pitiful the landscaping, the better.

Density. How closely packed are these little McMansions? The closer, the better. Lot size is important. If you can play ball in the front yard, consider withdrawing your nomination. If Fido has to search for a new spot to do his business, let me hear from you. (Dogs in the pictures earn you more points, too. But please don't snap shots of the aforementioned activity.)

Names. If this little slice of heaven has the word "woods" or "lakes" in it or if it uses the name of a tree, big points! Actually, anything referring to a pastoral setting is good. And if the street names are coordinated with the name of the subdivision, it's hard to believe the judges will be able to resist. Does the BUD lead the buyer think it is in the swanky confines of Mount Dora when its address really is somewhere else? Extra credit!

I'll start.

My nomination is a double-header in the Merry Road area of Tavares. Chelsea Oaks by America's First Home and The Pines at Lake Saunders by Demetree are equally gross. What could Tavares City Council members have been thinking? Probably the same thing as when they approved Foxborough by Maronda Homes just south of town on State Road 19.

It's like elected officials and developers together are trying to suck the soul out of any sense of community. Public housing in Russia is more appealing.

The amusing thing is that developers never see the irony in the names. Chelsea Oaks, for example, has no mature oak trees. So the street called Waltham Forest Drive draws a chuckle from those of us with warped senses of humor.

Right next door, Demetree has managed to name one street Motley Way. Enough said.

You've got two weeks. If you come across a subdivision done the right way, let me see that, too.