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Nice Place to Live Breckenridge, Colorado

From the looks of this welcoming mountain development, resplendent in traditional architecture, verdant views, and community parklands, you'd never guess that the Wellington Neighborhood in Breckenridge, Colorado, was once a barren tract of land spoiled by dredge mining. Residents, officials and environmental groups created this neighborhood that recycles land, creates affordable housing and provides a free transit shuttle downtown, avoiding the sprawl that's plagued its home state. Porches, alleys, open space, and trails connect the homes.

Until Breckenridge reclaimed 22 acres of the site in 1972, working locals in this resort town were being squeezed out by soaring housing prices. Today 80 percent of Wellington's 122 homes are reserved for locals. Prices for the high-country-style farmhouses range from $225,000 to $395,000.

In 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency gave its Smart Growth Achievement Award to this considerate, thriving development.