OAK BROOK — Illinois REALTORS® took part in a meeting on Monday to seek ways that the real estate industry and conservation organizations can work together to build better, healthier communities.
The meeting was held at the Inland Real Estate Group of Companies in Oak Brook and brought together leaders from local REALTOR® associations and conservation groups including Lake Forest Open Lands and The Conservation Foundation. The conservation groups work on projects which include putting land into voluntary conservation easements to preserve it from development and promoting the use of land in a way that increases the number of indigenous plant and animal species.
“We all have similar guiding principles,” said John Sentell, president of Lake Forest Open Lands. “We serve the entire state and collaborate with leaders to build trust — not unlike REALTORS®.”
Illinois REALTORS® President-elect Dan Wagner told those attending the meeting Monday that conservation-friendly development has many benefits for communities, not the least of which was creating communities where people want to live because of the natural beauty. He said the meeting was an opportunity for REALTORS® and conservation organizations representatives to get to know each other and build on common interests.
Landscape Architect Jack Pizzo has a firm, The Pizzo Group, which specializes in restoring land to its original state. He said integrating conservation efforts into development has a number of quantifiable benefits, including promoting healthier lifestyles.
The move to create natural space in communities is not a conservative or liberal issue, he noted. “Everybody is coming into the fold,” he said. “People really do care about this.”
The movement has a direct impact on the real estate industry, he said. Natural space makes real estate more valuable, and landscape design can alleviate flooding and water management problems. “These organizations have value in coming together,” he said.
Much of the meeting was facilitated by Melissa Goltra, a partner at Focus Training. She led meeting attendees through exercises designed to help generate ideas on possible collaborations between the two groups.
“My hope today is that when you leave here you are the ripple in the pond,” she said.