re:to develop or not to develop?
From: Buzz Burrell (72253.2101CompuServe.COM)
Date: Mon, 13 May 1996 23:22:24 -0500
The person from Grell Cohousing made good points and asked real good questions.
(And taking 8 years to get to Initial Site Approval places Grell as a
frontrunner at the upcoming Cohousing Championships!).  Here are some of my
offhand observations.

I am the Project Manager for Geneva Community, which is N of Boulder - Jim
Leach's backyard.  We own 176 acres and are starting the infrastructure this
year with house construction beginning early '97.  We are friends of Jims and
like him.  We are not using Wonderland for anything.

Why?  Wonderland does good work, is easy to deal with, and knows cohousing and
development better than anyone.  However, we didn't feel we needed them.

Here's the short list - 

* We are using the Lot Development Model.  I think this is a very viable method,
and greatly reduces the process and difficulty.

* Our development is Use-By-Right.  No PUD required.  We still would have done
the development ourselves, but this makes it easier.

* Our community is small.

* One member of the group (me) is acting as the main focus point.  I am a
Member/Owner, and happen to be somewhat good at this sort of thing.  I'm being
paid (a small wage) to act as Project Manager.  One thing I believe you are
quite right about:  someone with experience has to serve in this capacity, and
it is not a volunteer position, unless you are a wealthy fool.  Doing this type
of work via committee and group meetings could be a nightmare.

* Lastly, we want to be at or near the leading edge in progressive and
ecological building practices.  Wonderland does good work, but innovation and
creativity is not their specialty;  getting it done with expedience is.

So under our particular conditions, things are going quite well without any
developer except ourselves (Geneva Development Corporation, wholly owned equally
by Member/Shareholders).   Contrary to what you said under (2), many other
groups have done this as well.  I certainly can't directly comment on what you
should do;  each situation is unique, and different processes work well for
different groups.  Everything should be an option (including buying a sailboat
and coming back to America 3 years later after its all built and there is one
unit left, just for you).

My personal opinion, is that the Danish Model (as some of us call it), contains
some inherent fallacies, many of which you accurately if indirectly pointed out.
Following the Cohousing Book to the letter could be problematic, as this is the
US, not Scandanavia.

Have you heard of Nomad Cohousing, the newest in Boulder?  In my mind this is a
good future model.  Wonderland is buying it themselves, developing it to
cohousing standards, and then selling off built units to cohousers from an
established group.  In the Danish Model, you have tremendous time, effort, risk,
hassle, and venture capital with little savings or profit.  A giant PITA all for
the sake of good neighbors.  With the Nomad style (similar to Commons in Santa
Fe I believe) Wonderland has most of the above headaches, and what the cohouser
ends up with is the same as if they had done it all themselves.  They may pay a
bit more, but considering saved meeting time alone, its a wash.  Let's call it
the "Developer Model".  (Naturally, I would be happy to hear what a member of
Nomad has to say about this).

Needless to say, it will be interesting to review my comments a year from now!
Have I just put my foot in my mouth?

Best of luck to both of us!

Buzz Burrell
Paonia - Boulder, CO
72253.2101 [at] compuserve.com

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