condos vs cohousing
From: Liz Ryan Cole (
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2007 06:53:18 -0800 (PST)
With regard to zoning issues...I am thinking about arguments that can be
(or have been) made that distinguish cohousing from condos that are not
cohousing.  I am looking for language or experience that can help people
working on zoning issues with local boards.  Because the Pinnacle
Project is working with a zoning consultant right now this is a very
specific need for us, but it could also be useful more generally and in
the long term.

I think we could make at least one argument along environmental lines. 
We could say that residents in cohousing use less space per person over
all because they can share common space. So perhaps a Planning Board
could allow any multi-unit or clustered development in which the entire
usable space divided among the number of adult residents is no more than
X?  800 square feet, 1000 sq ft?

I think we could make a community oriented argument along these lines
----Cohousing is different from condos because residents have a
commitment to their own community and to the community in which they
live.  Perhaps the vision statement that members have to agree to should
be shared with local zoning people?  Has any group every said that a
work requirement (we assume 4 hours per week in the community, but could
consider making it 6 hours per week and say that 2 or 3 of those hours
can be satisfied by volunteering in the library, the local school, as a
board member, working with a local group (Lyme has something called
“those guys” who come and help people with whatever they need, like
stacking wood or fixing broken doors, etc).

Are there other arguments people have made?

I have been trying to think of the arguments that towns make against
"apartments" or condominiums
        a) they will not be owner occupied and will therefore not be
taken care of
        b) they will fill with families and “too many” kids will come
into the school system
        c) they will put too many demands on town infrastructure/sewer

thanks for any and all thoughts and suggestions.  liz

Liz Ryan Cole
h 802-785-4124

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