Re: Private Use of Common Land
From: Mac Thomson (
Date: Wed, 3 Jun 1998 08:33:19 -0500
We've got lots of open space on the land that we'll live on -- about 250
acres.  About 60 acres of that is irrigated farm land and we've got
members who are planning on operating a horse drawn CSA (Community
Supported Agriculture) on it.  We've also got folks who have an at home
business which requires a big work barn that they'd like to continue to
run once they relocate to cohousing.  So we recognized early that we
were going to have some issues with private use of common land so we
spent some time with it and came up with an agreement.  It's a fairly
lengthy agreement so I won't paste it here, but you can find it on our
website if you're interested.  Our website address is in my signature

The agreement basically says that when someone wants to use the common
land on some long term, exclusive basis, they need to get permission and
perhaps compensate the community for its use.  By exclusive, we mean
that when the land is put to a certain use, other uses can't happen
there.  For example, if a few acres become a CSA operated by a few
members, that space is no longer available to pasture horses or for kids
to play in or for much of anything besides growing the CSA crops.

The agreement provides compensation guidelines which range from zero at
one end of the scale for private uses that would have some benefit to
the community to the other end of the scale for private commercial uses
where some compensation would be required.  We envision that much of any
compensation that will be negotiated will be in kind.  So for example,
the CSA might get to use a few acres of common land in exchange  for
organic veggies for the common house dinners.

As far as how the community goes about deciding how the common land gets
used for private purposes, I'd imagine that we'll have some committee
responsible for that as has been suggested already here.  Let the people
that care make the decisions and minimize meeting time.
           Mac Thomson                   San Juan Cohousing
           ganesh [at]                Durango, Colorado
            Web Site:

 "A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on."
                           - Carl Sandberg

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