There has been a lot written about clustered design vs. conventional zoning and house placement, but much of it focuses on suburban lot development, not the large parcels of rural lands. However, some of the issues are the same and worth taking a look at like the EPA Stormwater paper on clustered development (that speaks to much wider issues than stormwater).
More applicable to the situation up on Sunshine Canyon and Fourmile, may be the excellent clustered development plan developed for Bear Tooth Ranch outside of Golden, Colorado. Each of these lots are 35 acres, but the building envelopes, the area allowed for house construction, within each lot is significantly smaller and clustered with the same of other parcels. As you can see from the site plan, three or so houses are relatively close to each other but that placement has been very carefully designed such that each house looks away from each other with its own view corridor. Very careful study of the land, on foot, with great sensitivity and thoughtfulness is required to pull this off successfully. At Bear Tooth Ranch, the result is very large swaths of open space, much larger than if every house was placed without thought of its neighbors. I use this example because I think it is quite well executed but also because the situation out there – large, treeless areas, is similar to the post-fire landscape in rural Boulder. No longer are those houses up in Sunshine and Fourmile canyons nestled amongst stands of trees, visually isolated from each other. Each house will have to look at their neighbors for quite some time unless the placement of the rebuilds is considered and careful. I am not suggesting some kind of County-imposed zoning but rather a community effort, neighbor to neighbor engaging with each other to benefit each other. Maybe the cohesiveness that has been formed from this common tragedy can extend for at least a few months more to forge this kind of cooperation. It certainly is in everyone’s best interest to volunterily work together, like the firefighters did, to retain and engender community.