Re: Possible Cohousing/Permaculture based farm project near Ann Arbor, MI
From: John Beutler (
Date: Fri, 9 Jan 2015 08:21:36 -0800 (PST)
Sharon's correct - meet with zoning staff, and learn about your local zoning 
ordinance before you go?


Sent from my tricorder

> On Jan 9, 2015, at 10:38 AM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at]> 
> wrote:
>> 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
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Sociocracy: A Deeper Democracy
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