Re: Maine Cohousing contacts
From: Fred H Olson WB0YQM (
Date: Sat, 28 May 94 07:38 CDT
Message author:Grace K. Von Tobel              gkvontob [at]
               Kennebec Valley CoHousing
               Augusta, Maine

Posted by the COHOUSING-L sysop.

>Lynne Farnum
>Rose Tree Cohousing
>Groton, Massachusetts
>1.  How did you define "affordable" to meet state/local
>requirements and get the grant?  Can people join in your
>group at the beginning move into the affordable units if
>they meet certain guidelines?  When our group investigated
>this, it looked as though we would have no choice about
>who would live in the affordable homes -- they would be
>assigned from the town's waiting list, and might be people
>who had absolutely no interest in the values or goals of

   We applied to Federal Home Loan Bank for an Affordable Housing Grant.  I
was not involved in the writing of that application, but I think the
grounds of affordability has always been our insistence on 2/3 of our
community being affordable to low and very low income families.
   We are applying for a 515 rural cooperative loan for our 16 affordable
homes (FmHA)  [The 8 market rate homes are applying for conventional loans
at local banks.]  This --FmHA 515--is a program that has had funds since
1991 but has awarded not one penny *yet*.  We are working to give national
and local FmHA  sound reasons to break the logjam and open up funding for
rural cooperatives.  Because we are a coopertive, the requirements for
participatory self-governance and self-maintenance is incorporated into the
whole project. FmHA schedules a certain amount of cost for
management/mainentance.  The better we are at self-management, the more
money stays with us--and annually may be disbursed to escrow accounts of
shareholders.  The less well we manage--FmHA will require us to hire
outside management for the project.  Great incentive for the very thing we
 FmHA approves of our "perpetual affordablity" whereby when our 1%, 50 year
mortgage is paid up, that our covenants prohibit speculative gain.  The
resale of a home provides the seller with the amount of money invested
(with a modest cost-of-living addition) plus whatever has accrued in the
seller's escrow acct.  This perpetual affordability will hold true for the
market rate homes also, but without escrow account.
  People who buy into the affordable co-op in later years (but within the
first 50 years) will need to be FmHA eligible and also meet the co-op
requirements of participation in operation of the community.
 Right now our focus is getting to groundbreaking.  We are actively
seeking/applying for both a predevelopment loan to get us through to
construction closing and also foundation grants to help us build the common
   Yes, it is outrageously complicated.  Had we not had a member who is
experienced and talented in community development, non-profit housing, and
land trusts, etc. we would not have made it this far.  I look forward to a
time when we can catch our breaths and begin to teach what we have learned.
 Education for CoHousing is part of our vision statement.  Oh, to be at
home together and able to share how we did it!
>2.  You said the developed area of your community will
>be 24 homes on 20 acres.  Our group's site plan (for a
>parcel we lost at auction, sadly) called for 27 units on
>3-4 acres, including roads, parking, common house, and
>the common space enclosed by the buildings.  Are your
>houses actually going to be spread out at something like
>one per acre, or does the 20 acres include your entire
>community, gardens, ball fields, pasture, etc.?

   Actually, that is a rough estimate.  It includes roadway, parking
outside perimeter of cluster, the maintenance building (we need a plow for
snow, etc.) and assorted gardens, play space, etc.  Another factor in the
footprint of our buildings is that we are building all single story homes
[heat issues and accessibility]. 
   The Readfield planning board requires a hefty amount of land per
cluster.  We have had to do some real gymnastics to meet town
requirements--cluster development was voted in a few years ago, hotly
contested and not yet successfully built.  The plan requires a minimum of
40 ft. between homes and prohibits anything larger than single or duplex
homes on one portion of our buildable land.  So we have constraints from
the town.  Also--the lay of our land requires more elaborate road
construction than we'd hoped.  Our plan includes 4 four-plexes, 2 duplexes,
and 4 singles clustered with a common house.  We are keeping our 30 acres
of open fields for agricultural purposes.  Yes, by urban standards, we may
seem profligate with our use of land...but once you encounter the town
regulations, the lenders' requirements, and our heart's desire to cherish
the land--the process gets very complicated!

Grace K. Von Tobel              gkvontob [at]
Kennebec Valley CoHousing
Augusta, Maine
Fred H. Olson     fholson [at]     Minneapolis, MN   55411        
voice: (612) 588-9532    Amateur radio call: WB0YQM   Sysop of 
COHOUSING-L mailing list -- now avail. via Gopher:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.