RE: Cost up to zoning board approval
From: Rob Sandelin (Exchange) (
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 16:29:16 -0500
Heather wrote:  We are afraid of spending
the time and money if we won't be able to build cohousing on that 

 My advice is to do a two pronged inquiry. First prong: find out the 
name of the head of the planning department. Next prepare a brief 
presentation about cohousing, what it is, where its been done, why its 
really great, third make an appointment with the head of the department 
and make a presentation about cohousing. (One of my wishes is that I 
could do this full time, just fly around the country and make the 
planning departments all drool over how great cohousing is. Sigh, so 
buy another lottery ticket Rob).  If this person seems unmoved and 
unmovable, disinterested or antagonistic over the concept, be wary. If 
this person is interested and helpful be hopefull. If this person is 
totally enthusiastic, bends over backward to help you, etc. you are 
great shape. Having the head of planning dept interested in your new 
idea (cohousing is almost always new in most places these days) its 
very very helpful, more so than you can ever realize.=20

Second prong: Go to the planning office wearing your investigative 
reporter hat and research how many similiar rezones have been granted 
in the last 4 years to what you want to do. If there is a slew of them, 
you're in luck. Find out who did em, odds are there will be some 
repititions of company names such as Dewy, Cheatem and Howe development 
corps. Rustle up your groups best imitation good old boy smoozer, call 
a couple of these companies and see if you can find someone you can 
smooze for info about the process.  Take em out to lunch.  Heck, you 
might even want to hire them as consultants. Being a successfull 
developer, and landing rezones are skills worth buying. If you find no 
similiar rezones in the last 4 years in your area you might consider 
investing your money in a fishing boat instead of cohousing. Well, 
actually it might not be that bleak, but its going to require the 
active support of the planning department (see prong one).

 If you strike out in both areas, and you are willing to go further,  I 
would advise prong 3, building political and grassroots support by 
doing slide shows and dog and pony shows everywhere. The politicos tell 
the planning director what to do. Even if the planning people are not 
for you, if the city council, county council, state politician, 
governor, etc all are on your side, you have a shot for the rezone. But 
this kind of support takes huge amounts of very time consuming and 
somewhat nauseating boot licking which you might not have the interest 
in. =20

If you talk to a few developers in your area you may get some very good 
advise about the odds on rezones in your area. Developers live and die 
by these and they seldom invest wrong, because they do their homework.=20

Rob Sandelin
Northwest Intentional Communities Association

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