Re: trying to get set up
From: Lynn Nadeau / Maraiah (
Date: Tue, 11 May 2010 09:08:09 -0700 (PDT)
RoseWind Cohousing, Port Townsend WA
21 years from starting, long built and functioning

RE inquiry from forming Freedonia group. I suggest you find Chris Scott Hanson's book on developing a community, and some other resources to fill you in on the "how to's".
In my mind it's simple - we buy some stuff and we share it. :P But I guess in the 'real world' it's a little more complex. :
Actually, a lot more complex!

Zoning: Our land was already-platted land in town. So we used a Planned Unit Development process. In sum, you erase all the default lot lines, street rights of way, utility easements, etc and come up with your own site plan, defending it in many categories -- traffic, parking, emergency access, drainage for the 500-year storm, manholes, sewer cleanouts, etc etc -- as being as good as, or better than, the default platting. Once approved, your new site plan becomes the permanent reality: with your defined home sites, commons, etc. Developers do this all the time. I don't know if every area has this option. Confer with a City Planning department in your area, if there is one.

Also, if your area has some sort of Master Plan for 'growth management' or such, you can look for ways that your project matches up with some of the Plan's stated goals.

Liability: Our project has a generous liability policy for the common holdings. Individual home owners are responsible for their own choices, regarding personal liability on their property.

Common Property, as potential contention if someone leaves the community. In general, I own my house and "an undivided share of the common properties" or something like that. Nothing I can take away as my personal stuff.

Nonpayment of dues. During formation, you set the rules. What is needed to be part of decision making, what you have to pay when, penalties if any. Once you are into the realm of an annual budget, your bylaws and CC&Rs will specify what happens. Here, we can decide to offer a hardship waiver or deferral. One member has defiantly refused to pay assessments, and as a result has a lien on his house. Never had to do that before. You speak of the community's land purchase being mortgaged: around here you can't get a mortgage on raw land.

Good luck in your inquiries.
Maraiah Lynn Nadeau

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