Re: Adopting Common Areas
From: Laura Fitch, A.I.A. (
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002 18:31:00 -0600 (MDT)

Kellie Teter and John Connell wrote:

Some members now want to "adopt" some of the common areas for their own use
(Gardens, extensions of decks, Etc.)

Pioneer Valley is now in its eighth year. We have quite a bit of space around our houses for folks to develop their own gardens. Our rule around gardens is to check with your immediate neighbors about placement of garden areas, and then to bring the following issues to the larger community: large trees that would shade solar access to other units, or block views, and walkways that would efffect drainage. We have a landscape committee and a design review committee that is available for consulting, help, and mediation around garden issues. Our site is really quite lovely now, because of what we have allowed people to do. Everyone feels ownership of some land around their unit, and there have been few disputes (only over view blocking trees).

Extensions and Porches are handled with a design review procedure. I can send you our whole manual if you want. Generally we encourage porches - many people were not able to afford them during the original design and construction, but they are recognised as good for hanging out and supporting community. The many dozen or so porches that have been added since our move in (and there is another under construction now) have helped to tranform our formerly bland architecture into something quite lovely.

Additions have not been widely sought or encouraged. Only two large mudrooms so far. One large living room type addition has been disputed, much to the owners discouragement - and I'm not sure if it will come up again, or if she will patiently wait for a larger unit to become available.

The design review procedure has several categories: minor changes, major changes, and changes to community buildings. There is a procedure that involves providing sketches, notifying everyone, scheduling a design review meeting, and posting decision for a period of time. There are a few people in the community who consider the procedures onerous - but most folks think they are really necessary.

Even with all this, I don't believe we have properly adjusted peoples legal documents - so that porches that are supposedly owned by individuals are on community property - the deeds need to be changed.

Laura Fitch, A.I.A.
Principal Architect

110 Pulpit Hill Rd.
Amherst, MA  01002
413-549-7918 (fax)

lfitch [at]

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