Re: Zoning patterns
From: John Beutler (
Date: Sun, 15 Dec 2013 07:24:51 -0800 (PST)
Hopefully you have not signed a contract with the landowner. If you do, it should be conditional on obtaining the zoning you need. I have no idea what the zoning ordinance looks like, but you have to work within it or propose a new category. Most zoning has categories for offsetting clustered housing with open space, but you need a density of 2/acre. That's not a huge increase, but it is meaningful for both the zoning folks and your project.Changing the ordinance itself is a substantial challenge unless you have the powers that be on your side. Have you considered doing a whole community water & sewer system rather than well & septic? Especially in an arid area like New Mexico, it might be advantageous.

Liberty Village, my community, is in a rural unincorporated area, and we ended up being a planned unit development (PUD) instead of using the cohousing text amendment to the zoning ordinance that we were able to have passed. We are 38 units on 24 acres, though only 18 units are built so far. We have county water & sewer, and having sewer taps revoked was a substantial barrier to proceeding from 2004-2008. Once that was solved, then the real estate crisis happened....



On 12/14/2013 7:59 PM, Joyce Thompson wrote:
Cohousing colleagues, we need help!

We are Placitas Sage, a developing senior cohousing community in Placitas,
New Mexico.  Placitas is a rural/suburban unincorporated area 10 miles
north of Albuquerque and about 40 miles south of Santa Fe.  We have found a
wonderful 11.8 acre site in the foothills of the Sandia mountains and
planned to build 20 800-1200 sq.ft. units, but we have just learned the
county zoning board is treating us like a *subdivision* and limiting us to
only 11 housing units -- restricted to 1 house per acre, like most of the
rest of the area.  That number is too small, both for community and for
financial purposes, for our community.

Have any of you persuaded a zoning board in a *rural* area to change the
zoning for cohousing from a subdivision, allowing more dense clusters of
housing units (condos/casitas) along with a common house and shared
land/garden, etc.?

Unlike urban areas, our water will come from wells, and septic systems will
handle sewage.   This seems to be an unusual model for cohousing.  Have any
of you created cohousing in a rural area with these kinds of systems?

We have a good group of committed people, but we face many challenges,
especially zoning and water supply issues, before we can proceed.  Any
suggestions you can offer will be most appreciated

Peace, Joyce Thompson
Placitas Sage Cohousing
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