|language or experience help needed to persuade Planning Board||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Thomas Lofft (tloffthotmail.com)|
|Date: Sat, 12 Dec 2009 17:03:47 -0800 (PST)|
Liz: I have always promoted the "Co" in cohousing as meaning collaborative. Collaborating with the present 1800 residents (meaning the number of residents, not necessarily their 17th century mentality) is part of the solution. As Sharon Villines indicated, that certainly means getting an understanding of the values and norms of the existing community, which, admittedly, may appear to be unreasonable. As far as zoning and land use planning go, professionally the community norms should all be outlined in the Comprehensive Plan, which leads to the Zoning, which along with the development regulations allows you to know what the constraints are for your site plan and subdivision. Of course, there may well be multiple underlying ethics that will never be spelled out in the code books, whether you want to identify them as fear or bigotry or anything else. Typically, we find that developers run into opposition of two kinds: 1) The NIMBY's: Not in My Backyard. "I'm not against (multi-family), but this just isn't the place for it in this community..."; and 2) The CAVE-men: Citizens Against Virtually Everything: "We have just enough of everything we need here and we don't want anything different." But every community wants something they still don't have and if you can show that your proposal can/will bring one or more of those factors to the community, without bringing any of the things they really fear most, whatever those may be, it should make your proposal more appealing. But part of the system is also to make yourselves more appealing and create ways to comply with the bureaucracy that exists, even if it takes a few years to get there. We built Liberty Village on the edge of a 700 resident unincorporated rural community by negotiating with the larger County Comprehensive Plan and Zoning provisions. We selected the site because it was: A, available; B, environmentally appealing; C, adjacent to a far larger county park; and D, close enough to connect to the existing sewer system and an adjacent limited water system. But it was zoned Agricultural and would only allow a SFD cluster of 6 homes on 1 acre lots with wells and septic systems. We honored all the environmentally sensitive areas of flood plain, wetlands, and limited woodlands by conserving them as a buffer against the park and committing to add far more new woodland than presently existed. We honored the historic conservation ethic by protecting the 1753 Manor House and planning it as a separate parcel to be subdivided and sold with outbuildings as a unique historic property, albeit with a much smaller land parcel. We committed to pay all our own costs for extending the sewer system mains to connect to our property. We committed to upgrade the water system by paying for new water storage facilities that weren't presently available, but were badly needed to manage peak water user demands. We couldn't get a Planned Unit Development approval because the site was zoned Agricultural so we applied for a single family rezoning that would give us 50% more density than we wanted, but we still presented a cluster development plan that showed that we wouldn't use the total density allowed. Still the County denied the requested rezoning application, but conceded with approving a lower density single family zoning. This was a major success because it also gave us a residential land use designation, which did allow us to apply for a Planned Unit Development approval. Yes, we had to repeat the initiative for a 2nd rezoning application to get the Planned Unit Development which was finally approved and allowed our clustering of duplexes not allowed by the SFD zoning. Yes, it took four years, but we survived the retirement of a Planning Director, retirement of a Public Works Director, an elected changeover of many of the County Commissioners and multiple new appointments to the Planning Commission. For four years, we told everyone who we could buttonhole for a conversation about the value of cohousing as a collaborative tool for building a new community without divisiveness, presented them with copies of Chuck & Katie's Book, and held repeated open community meetings as we kept increasing our partnership from five invested households to 23. Yes, it took time, but what else were we planning to do with the rest of our lives? Live in spec builder subdivisions and apartments? In considering your case in Lyme, does the Village Center have multi-family zoning or other multi-family development provisions? Can you engage a few intervening landowners to build a bridge/link to extend that zoning through their properties to your property by rezoning them all in a comprehensive land use plan change? Does the town have any environmental planning ethics discussed or adopted in the Town Plan that embrace energy conservation? Does the town have any residential weatherization assistance program, even if it is income restricted, that at least embraces energy conservation? The challenge is to point out that the town has embraced energy conservation in principle and that your proposal merely proposes to do that at a higher level of energy conservation than other predecessors had anticipated, but is now entirely appropriately. Are there any other developers in the region that would also support having larger multifamily buildings? Will they join you in lobbying to change the zoning code restrictions? That's part of the American Way. If you don't like the system, then change it! Get LEED certification criteria and a LEED expert to demonstrate how multiple interactive energy efficient design measures can be most effectively implemented in larger scale buildings, even if done as low-rise 3 story buildings. E.G., tighter building shells reduce energy demand which allow smaller heating plants which produce lower emissions which create less global warming. Clustered units in larger buildings offer less exterior wall space with less energy loss. A single larger multi-family building on a site allows more open space conservation than wasting land in unusable side yards between scattered multiple buildings. A single larger multi-family building with internal community space reduces demand on community recreation facilities and play areas that would be generated by multiple smaller buildings which would not have the economy of scale of a single large building. A single larger building reduces total rooftop area and therefore reduces storm water runoff which reduces downstream erosion factors. A consolidated parking area does the same thing. If the density scare is also thrown up against you, I believe the numbers can be made less threatening by finding comparable examples of overall averages for the entire town that will make your proposal much less threatening. Another tactic for making numbers work is attaching a totally undevelopable adjacent parcel, alley, floodplain, right-of-way, etc. to your parcel at a low cost, even if only for the purpose of making your density numbers average out lower. Then use the land for a playground. Does an adjacent neighborhood need community meeting space? Will you willingly offer to share your community space? Takoma Village Cohousing does and has 41 units approved on 1.25 acres. There is something that Lyme, NH needs that the Pinnacle Project can provide through developing cohousing to overcome Lyme disease. What is it? How will you provide it? Best wishes, Tom Lofft Liberty Village, MD Date: Thu, 10 Dec 2009 18:15:53 -0500 From: Liz Ryan Cole <lizryancole [at] mac.com> Subject: [C-L]_ language or experience help needed to persuade Planning Board that 6 unit max per building ....is not the most environmental way to build homes. Our cooperative cohousing and hospitality business project is making good progress. Right now we would like to persuade the Lyme (NH) Planning Board that the existing zoning language, which limits multiunit buildings to no more than 6 units, is unnecessarily restrictive. Can anyone point us to experience and/or language that will help us? We are building in a rural area, in a town of 1800 people, near a village center. Almost all homes in town are single family. We know that we have a better chance to build less expensive homes if they don't have to be stand alones. We also know in our cold climate that it is less expensive to heat shared-walled spaces and that we are much more likely to use the common house as a real living room, library, etc, if we don't have to put on boots, etc just to get there. Does anyone on this list have data and/or experience that can help? thanks! liz Liz Ryan Cole Pinnacle Project Lyme, NH lizryancole [at] mac.com www.PinnacleProject.info Home 802.785.4124 Work 802.831.1240 Thanks for writing. Tom _________________________________________________________________ Hotmail: Powerful Free email with security by Microsoft. http://clk.atdmt.com/GBL/go/171222986/direct/01/
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