Environmentalist John Tippett’s conservation group opposed a new development when it was proposed more than a decade ago on the banks of the Rappahannock River.

Now, the 4,000-home community is rising and Tippett has decided to work with the developer of the eco-friendly development called Haymount.

The Friends of the Rappahannock took a stand against the development before Tippett joined the group. But when Caroline County gave the OK for the homes, he decided to make the best of things. “There was an evolution in our perspective toward Haymount, from being the right development in the wrong place to being a model,” he said. “Their goals fit our goals.”

The Fredericksburg-based Friends of the Rappahannock is building a satellite office at the development near Port Royal as part of the organization’s efforts to expand its reach downriver. Haymount designed and has funded the construction of the office.

Developer John A. Clark said Haymount will use the latest wastewater treatment and stormwater drainage systems; feature an organic farm, garden and market; and cluster the 4,000 homes to reduce the development’s footprint. It will preserve two-thirds of the 1,600 acres and possibly include man-made wetlands. Each home might come with two bicycles. Clark plans to set homes back from the waterfront, preserving views and using the development’s 300 feet of river frontage for a park. He said he hopes the first residents can move into Haymount in fall 2008.

“They could have made huge amounts of money doing waterfront lots,” Tippett said. “We can talk about low impact development and then walk outside and see it.”

Friends of the Rappahannock’s expansion into the Lower Rappahannock basin follows a record of success in the Fredericksburg area.

The group worked with local, state and federal officials to remove the Embrey Dam, which was demolished in 2004, restoring the 184-mile-long Rappahannock to its full length. For the first time in 150 years, American and hickory shad, herring and other migratory fish returned upriver to spawn.

Last spring, the group worked with the Fredericksburg City Council to permanently preserve 25 miles of pristine, city-owned riverfront north and west of Fredericksburg. The 4,200 acres includes land that the city owns along the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers.

Tippett and Clark said a primary objective of Friends of the Rappahannock’s presence at Haymount will be expanding educational outreach in Caroline and Westmoreland county schools. “The benefit is really for the river, and the children we’re trying to educate,” Clark said.