Oakleigh Meadows Cohousing Resistance
From: Thomas Lofft (tloffthotmail.com)
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2018 18:58:46 -0700 (PDT)
On Aug 1, 2018, at 12:52 PM, Kathryn McCamant <kmccamant [at] 
cohousing-solutions.com> wrote:

"This type of useless neighborhood opposition, and the American resistance to 
any reasonable density (afterall, we are just talking 2-story townhomes with 
plenty of room for gardens) within established cities is only adds to keeping 
housing prices high and cities car dependent.

I hope the larger cohousing community will support those communities that run 
into unreasonable neighbors..... unfortunately, this kind of unreasonable fear 
has killed or lessened many a good project."

Sharon Villines suggested:
"Perhaps other communities who faced these problems can share their stories so 
potential communities can understand that (1) it is isn't personal, and (2) how 
to change it or just live through it."

Resistance comes in many forms, but perserverance is critical to achieving the 
dream. I think that was also the message of Martin Luther King.

NIMBY's very typically resist with the statement, "I/we can understand the need 
for (projects) like this but not at this place, not at this time, (i.e. Not in 
My Backyard)."

We fought a lot of resistance in establishing Liberty Village Cohousing as 
Maryland's first cohousing community in 1998.  Now we have 18 homes completed 
and plan to build more in the year ahead.

One early obstacle was the County's demand for a public road cul-de-sac at our 
entry in lieu of our proposed 24' wide driveway entry off the State Highway.

It turned out the real reason was the County Schools wanted a school bus 
turnaround at that point and demanded a full width cul-de-sac (120' ROW) 
dedicated and improved public right of way. Aside from cost, the improvement 
also meant removing 6 - 75 year old maples along the existing entry drive.

A further requirement was that County subdvision regulations required alternate 
vehicular ingress/egress for development of over some number, possibly 25 
homesites, while we had planned  to develop 38 new homes with a single entry 

We finally conceded to dedicate and build the cul-de-sac and negotiated for a 
concession from the County to waive dedicating and building a secondary private 
street for alternate ingress/egress, with a condition that County would accept 
dedication of an emergency ingress/egress via a driveway through the original 
farm road driveway of the 1753 Manor House which was to be subdivided from the 
property as a private sale. We also negotiated the acceptance of that emergency 
ingress/egress easement through the property to be sold as a concession by the 
purchasers, but recorded it as a private easement, denying any claim by the 
County for ultimate use as a public ROW.  I look at it as a 3 way win-win-win 
whereby nobody got their perfect resolution, but everyone came away better off 
than if everybody had refused to budge. Fortunately we were only negotiating 
with bureaucracies and not emotional reactionaries. I was perfectly comfortable 
at not holding out for concensus on our final plan and glad to walk away with a 
3-2 majority WIN!

As to the scenario as I understand it for Oakleigh or pothers facing a similar 
issue, the trade off may be whether to reduce the number of homes and members 
and therefore income from lot sales, vs. whether to contribute to widening an 
existing roadway? First question might be whether the existing right of way for 
the present road would even allow pavement widening; would that also entail 
collateral drainage upgrades? If necessary, would any neighbors along the 
existing right-of-way willingly dedicate enough frontage to allow wdening or 
other necessities? Second Q: would the widening cost be paid by the 
jurisdiction, or shared by all the beneficiaries (including every property 
owner along the street) or be passed through in total to Oakleigh?; Third 
Question, Would the jurisdiction form an improvement district to bond the costs 
of road upgrades and assess it over 20 years to all property owners, including 
the existing as well as future homes in Oakleigh to spread the costs over as 
wide a list of beneficiaries as possible?

Just some thoughts, although I have just recived a message that Oakleigh is 
fully approved. Certainly hope so! Best wishes for perseverance.

Tom Lofft

Liberty Village, MD

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