Lot development model - RoseWind
From: Lynn Nadeau (welcomeolympus.net)
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 11:18:36 -0600
Rob Sandelin's "Re: Assessments" post of 11-16-98 describes Sharingwood's 
history as a "lot development model." I would note that RoseWind 
Cohousing, in Port Townsend WA, has followed a very similar path, 
although we are 5 years "younger".

We too have been entirely financed out of members' pockets, from the 
beginning. Had all lots been sold at once, a portion of each buy-in would 
have gone to land purchase, a portion to infrastructure installation 
(roads, utilities, etc), and a portion to the common house. Instead, 
membership increased over time from 3 families to 20, and the first 
buy-ins all went to land, the next to infrastructure, and the last (as 
well as the few still to be sold) to the common house budget. 

Homes are built according to the individual lot owners' timeline, taste 
and budget, with an architectural review process that combines 
requirements (observing the building envelope, parking requirements, etc 
which are part of our Planned Unit Development with the City; also 
RoseWind requirements regarding solar access for neighbors, mainly) and 
advisory input as members make what they hope are helpful suggestions 
regarding site plan, floor plan, construction methods, etc.) In this 
process we also look at whether the construction process of a home will  
impact  the commons, and what the contractors are allowed to do, and how 
any damage will be restored afterwards. 

As a Planned Unit Development, we used a process already in the local 
building and planning system, as if we (amateurs, in our spare time) were 
a development corporation doing a subdivision sort of project. The PUD 
erased the existing plat lines (a grid of little rectangles and streets) 
and legally replaced them with our project's site plan -- RoseWind lots 
1-2-3 etc and RoseWind commons, and common house lot. We had to go 
through a detailed Planning Department process to establish that, in 
effect, our new plan was as good as the old one: meeting requirements for 
emergency vehicle access, parking, neighbors' street access, storm water 
retention and drainage, and so forth. The folks at the City were very 
supportive, especially those in the Planning and Building Department. I 
think they were happy to see something that harked back to their 
idealistic college hopes of "city planning" rather than the mundane stuff 
they ended up doing. 

It would have been excellent if we could have had a common house first, 
but like Sharingwood, I don't know how we could have. We couldn't have a 
common house, or any homes, till we owned the land and had the 
infrastructure in and the PUD approved. At that point, the only way we 
could have had a common house would have been if RoseWind members loaned 
the group money instead of building their homes. Some folks had been 
waiting for years to get their home built and did not see that as a 

We are neither coop nor condo, but a "Washington State miscellaneous 
mutual benefit non-profit corporation" with a homeowners' association. 

The financial requirements of land and home ownership have impacted 
income diversity. Like the town we live in, we have a number of retired 
people. Others work, but have enough saved, or -- like me-- a generous 
parent, to get a house built, with financing worked out individually. 
"Accessory Dwelling Units" are legal here, and a number of homes have 
been built with one-bedroom apartments incorporated, giving us a small 
population of renters. 

Although we had originally hoped to be a rainbow of races, cultures, 
ages, and incomes, and would still welcome as much such diversity as we 
can find, we have also discovered just how much internal diversity a 
group of mostly white-middle-class-liberal-leaning-college-graduates can 
have! We bring a vast spectrum of life experiences and perspectives, 
learning and communicating styles, and still have much to learn about 
each other. We don't seem to be troubled by the fact that some members 
have total financial security, while others work as waitresses, cooks, 
childcare providers and such. We seem untroubled by having houses side by 
side,  one of which may be three times smaller or less costly than the 

It is also of note that we are right in the middle of a small town which 
has a very cohousing-like culture of its own, in which we also 
participate fluidly. Our project blends in socially, and visually, with 
the larger community here. This takes some pressure off to have a total 
microcosm in our own group. For example, people with young children have 
a rich array of resources, activities, and support for children all 
around. We don't have our Common House built yet (this coming year!) but 
the local Food Coop, Community Center, Credit Union, post office, and 
bakery all provide opportunities to run into and chat with friends every 
time we go out. In some ways, those places function as a common house for 
us, and for the larger community. 

The bottom line is, that there are many ways to arrive at cohousing. If 
you are just starting, don't be too worried that if you don't do 
everything the way another group did, or the way some experts say to, 
that you are doomed. Our process has stretched over almost ten years, 
till now, and we have gotten (with no debt)  to 20 households, 12 living 
on site, community vegetable gardens, and a lot of mutual support and 
friendship. We are sure that five years from now will find us with  
orchards and more gardens going, common house a fixture of daily life, 25 
families on site, children who have been born here, many sorrows and joys 
shared, and a strong future. 

Lynn Nadeau, RoseWind Cohousing, Port Townsend WA
welcome [at] olympus.net

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