Re: Possible Cohousing/Permaculture based farm project near Ann Arbor, MI
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 9 Jan 2015 07:38:13 -0800 (PST)
> We actually don't have a site plan yet but we do have pretty strict zoning 
> restrictions in the area where the land is located, so that limits what we 
> can do.  The land is about 30 acres.  My father in law owns 43 acres, they 
> would want to keep around ten acres and sell us the rest.  If it does seem 
> feasible to move forward with this project, we would definitely want people 
> to participate in the planning and decision making of what the community 
> looks like, but we do have to work with the restrictions already in place.   
> One of those restrictions is the fact that the houses have to be on separate 
> lots of at least 2 acres.

Other communities have been able to get this kind of zoning fixed. The 
objective (in addition to exclusivity) is to keep the area open and not over 
developed. The keep distance (and quiet) between houses.

If you cluster your buildings in the center of the land or at a distance from 
surrounding buildings you may be able to get a zoning variation. I would 
suggest talking to people in the zoning office -- not necessarily the people on 
the board -- to see what arguments might work.

This is my "janitor theory." When I was in college I learned that the head of 
maintenance knew more than anyone on campus. He had overheard conversations for 
years because the board members and heads of volunteer groups paid no attention 
to him. And he emptied the trash. And he had been there longer than any of the 
administrators. As head of the student council I often planned events. He was 
the one who knew which constituency was likely to object and why. Many of the 
administrators had not a clue.

He could also tell me things without being restricted by college regulations or 
status issues.

So talk to the guys who talk to the guys -- the clerks in the office.

Sharon Villines
Sociocracy: A Deeper Democracy

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