Re: Zoning codes and cohousing
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2016 08:26:03 -0700 (PDT)
Conventional zoning is focused chiefly on architectural attributes and land 
use.  Cohousing is a residential land use characterized by lifestyle, not by 
architecture.  The big problem is that many communities strongly favor single 
family housing — that is, one dwelling unit on one “lot” bounded by an 
imaginary line recorded at the registry of deeds.  It’s usually much harder to 
find affordable land zoned for multi-family housing built in a duplex, row 
house or apartment format, and “owned” pursuant to condominium law.

But and however, if your jurisdiction allows for condominium ownership, and you 
can find land zoned for multi-family at a suitable density, you can usually 
build cohousing.  In most cases, no regulation prevents a condo association 
from co-owning and co-managing a common pool, playground, putting green or 
clubhouse.  The clubhouse can certainly include all kinds of amenities like a 
child’s play room, or community kitchen and multi-purpose room.  “High end” 
condo communities celebrate these features in their marketing programs.  Once 
you build your row houses with a clubhouse, or your garden apartments with a 
community room, your jurisdiction should be taking very little interest in how 
you live your life with your friends and neighbors.

Yes?  Or, do I over-simplify … ?

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

> On Sep 28, 2016, at 10:05 AM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at] 
>> wrote:
>> On Sep 28, 2016, at 7:05 AM, Fred-List manager <fholson [at]> 
>> wrote:
>> I recall seeing some zoning codes for 2 municipalities somewhere about
>> cohousing. I would like to find them again. They might have been on
>> here. Does anyone recall these? I am involved in a 10 year zoning
>> re-write for my city and volunteered to get these to a decision
>> maker.
> I Googled "cohousing zoning ordinance.” Brings up 17,400 results including 
> messages to this list and documents on the site. Very 
> interesting topics.
> “sample zoning ordinances” gets many results. I included two below that will 
> give you language and definitions. They will also help you talk to zoning 
> officials and sound knowledgable. 
> Many code examples:
> PDF on how to write a zoning ordinance
> Wikipedia and Google are my first stops in researching (most) topics.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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