Required public use of common house
From: Katie Henry (
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2010 21:07:58 -0700 (PDT)
A beautiful old private clubhouse in northern NJ just came on the market. In 
addition to various meeting rooms and private quarters, it's got a large full 
kitchen and a ballroom with a stage that is available to the community for 
nonprofit functions and to the public for rental for weddings and similar 
events. Much of the clubhouse, including the kitchen and the ballroom/dining 
room, could be used as a common house pretty much unchanged. The dwelling units 
would be new construction on adjacent land. 

Most conventional development on this site would involve tearing down the 
existing building. I think the sellers would be more inclined to sell to a 
who would commit to preserving the building and keeping the public spaces 
available to the local nonprofits who have always used the club. I also think 
the local municipality would look more favorably on requests for zoning 
variances (which would be necessary for a cohousing community, because now it's 
only zoned for about 15 units; need more like 22).

So my question is ... How would people feel about joining a cohousing project 
that included a legal commitment to make parts of the common house (most likely 
the kitchen and ballroom/dining room) available to specified local groups at 
regular intervals? (Maybe once or twice a month max, although it might be 
end-of-year holiday functions.) Cleaning concerns could be dealt with by 
charging a standard cleaning fee for each use and contracting with an outside 
cleaning service so it's not a burden on the community. I know that public use 
of the common house is a hot-button topic. Would this be completely 
to anyone? A real deal-breaker? 

Katie Henry

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