Kane County Residential Value: The Influence of Open Space Amenities

The loss of open space has become an issue concerning all levels of government. In the Midwest (the focus
this study), the great majority of open space is in agricultural uses. However, because this land is owned for
profit-making purposes, there is always the possibility farmland will be developed, taking open space
amenities with it. Government may take two different actions to preserve open space. First, parks, forest
preserves and other publicly accessible open space may be purchased. However, this is expensive and requires
continued public spending for upkeep. The second strategy is keeping open space in private uses through
policies as zoning and purchase of development rights. The question is which approach is most reasonable,
both in terms of money spent and amenities preserved. This paper explores the benefits from public and
private open space by considering how much homeowners paid for access to open space in subdivisions
located throughout Kane County, Illinois, a Chicago fringe county. We analyzed the sale prices of residences
outside of municipalities during 1995 and 1996, focusing on land uses surrounding each house. This is made
possible through the use of Geographic Information Systems datasets from 1991 in which a 1.5 mile buffer
created around each residence to assess the effect of surrounding land uses. Ordinary least squares regression
findings support the assertion that different types of proximate land uses affect residential sale prices
differently with increased amount of farmland adding to sale prices. Quite unexpectedly, publicly accessible
open space diminished sale prices. This suggests policy makers need to consider a fuller range of open space
options when making decisions that affect local land markets.

Patrick A. Stewart, Douglas Krieger
DeKalb, IL: American Farmland Trust
Page Numbers: 
Publication Date: 
March 1, 1999
Literature Category: 
Reports and Studies