Perceptions of the rural-urban fringe: citizen preferences for natural and developed settings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The most dramatic changes in the American landscape today are occuring at the rural-urban fringe. There is a tremendous increase in development at the fringe, yet there has been little work to identify physical characteristics of the fringe that individuals prefer. The cost of this oversight is that development may in fact destroy the features that attracted people in the first place. This work presents new empirical evidence regarding the perceptions and preferences of the fringe on the part of the people who live there. In this study, 510 farmers, township planning commissioners, and other citizens living in Washtenaw Country, Michigan, provided preference rating for 32 pictures taken at the rural-urban fringe. They preferred settings including both farm and forest. Participants also preferred housing developments with mature trees over developments with few trees, and preferred settings with single family housing over those with multiple family housing. The findings are discussed in light of the trend to develop cluster housing at the rural-urban fringe, and the implications for maintaining rural character are addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-101
Number of pages17
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Aug 1994


  • Citizen preferences
  • Perceptions
  • Rural-urban fringe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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