"When you are looking out your balcony on floors six through 10, you think you are in Vermont," said Mazola. "All you see are treetops to the south and east, until you see downtown."
Jim Weier feels like he lives in the country since moving into his townhome at The Residences at Shelburne Farms in Winfield. The feeling balances out the bustle of his weekday commute to the Chicago Loop, he said.
"It's a very pastoral setting," he said. "I don't see a strip mall. I don't see a gas station. I see my development and the trees."
Shelburne Farms is surrounded by the 360-acre Winfield Mounds Forest Preserve, once the home and burial grounds of prehistoric Native Americans. The community, built by Kimball Hill Homes, has 191 townhouses and 64 condominiums, priced from $294,990.
Human residents aren't the only ones enjoying woodland serenity. They share the setting, and sometimes their homes, with critters. Some are cute and some aren't. Some smell better than others.
Near Batavia's downtown, Daphne Ritchie's home is bordered by forest on two sides. Coyotes, raccoons, skunks, squirrels and feral cats and an occasional deer regularly pass through her yard and gardens, often pausing to dine on whatever seems appealing. An avian choir awakens the household before dawn each morning.
"We've had snakes and frogs in the window wells," she said. "This time of year the mice want to get warm. They can get in through a crack the width of a pencil."
Sherm Fields, president of Wauconda-based Acres Group landscaping company, often is called upon to remediate wildlife damage to trees and turf. Skunks and raccoons dig up grass as they hunt for grubs. Deer rub their antlers against tree trunks to polish them, and tear up the bark in the process.
"We have to wrap Tyvek around trees to prevent damage," he said. "It's a real hassle."
Hungry rabbits are a consistent problem in many communities, he said.
But not in Ritchie's yard. That's because of the coyotes.
"What I like the most about my yard is I'm still in town and close to everything, but I have that feeling of being in the country and away from everything," she said. "And I love the wildlife. This summer we had a mother skunk and three little ones. We would sit outside at night, very quietly, of course, and watch them play like kittens. They were just adorable."
And the cicadas?
"It really depends on where you are," said Mazola. "They weren't too bad at Thatcher Woods. It's only once every 17 years."
At Apple Creek Estates in Woodstock, developer Kirk Homes is preserving more than one-third of the 559 acres as open space. Additional amenities, natural and enhanced, include groves of mature trees, 11 ponds and the namesake Apple Creek, plus seven miles of bike paths and three parks.
The community has 746 single-family homes and 370 townhomes, priced from the low $170,000s.
"The trees are beautiful and you see the seasons change -- and you do have to get out the rake," said Amidei. "But I think people would rather do that and have the shade and enjoy watching the squirrels and chipmunks go up and down the trees than not have them at all."
Near forest preserves
Here is a sampling of other wooded developments in the Chicago area:
*Trafalgar Woods, Morton Grove. The Lennar-built community offers 115 townhomes priced from $387,000, and is bordered on two sides by the Frank Bobrytzke Forest Preserve near the Miami Woods.
*Edgebrook Glen, Chicago. C.A. Development is building 64 single-family homes along the western border of the Indian Woods Forest Preserve on the Far Northwest Side. Prices start at $699,900.
*The Estates of Verona Ridge, Aurora. The community of 148 single-family homes sits adjacent to 500 acres of Kane County forest preserve. Each site overlooks open space and conservancy areas. Built by Orleans Homebuilders, homes are priced from the mid-$400,000s.
*The Woods at Countryside, Palatine. A 719-unit condominium conversion sprawls on 52 rolling, landscaped acres and is within walking distance to the Deer Grove Forest Preserve. Units are priced from $149,900
*Amberley Woods Condominiums, Lake Forest. Built on the former Blithefield Estate by Residential Homes of America, 90 condominiums in two four-story buildings are wrapped in natural forest.
Starting prices are in the low $500,000s.