Neighborhood Rules for a Sustainable Lifestyle

From time to time I receive an email with lots of great questions. This one needs to be shared.
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Grant,
Thanks for the information on the lots and prices. There are a lot of things we like about your development – it’s clear you’ve put a lot of time and thought into it.

We have in common some concerns about the economy and what will happen over the next few years, and we’re very interested in finding a community which has some of these concerns in common and a commitment to a degree of sustainability and self-reliance. Separately, I’ll email you a couple articles on the economy / future predictions which you may find interesting.

My wife and I have a few questions – I’ve numbered them for reference, the number does not signify a priority:

1. What is the threshold to quality for the “Green” discount?   That is, is there a list of specific things one must do to a home?
Currently there are three types of green installation that would qualify. They are Wind power, Solar power and Rain Water Collection System. One of my objectives in offering this rebate is that our efforts in this direction be very visible as an example to educate and encourage others. Hence the choice of these. From a quality perspective, they must function for their intended purpose. Proof that electricity is generated in the projected amounts and stored in a manner to provide a meaningful contribution to your sustainability. You may either contract with an approved professional for installation, in which case the rebate may be applied against the total installed cost or do the work yourself, in which case the rebate will apply only against materials. The project must be completed within one year of purchase.

2. Is there a build deadline – a date by which one must build, after you’ve purchased a lot?
There is no build deadline, only Green Rebate deadline.

3. I see there is a common garden area, but it appears that all forms of fencing is prohibited on an individual lot. We’d like a place where we can have our herb garden for the kitchen and a small vegetable garden on our own lot … and that would mean fencing of some type to keep the rabbits and deer out. Is that a possibility, or is the no-fencing rule absolute?
I need to clarify the covenants. The no-fence rule is meant to apply only to opaque privacy fences. We want to have an open community that invites interaction between neighbors and minimizes barriers. Fences for other purposes (pet or livestock containment, garden protection, etc) are fine.  You will find that anything that makes good common sense for the establishment of a sustainable lifestyle will be encouraged here. The primary principle that will govern all rules is the golden rule with an emphasis on personal liberty to use your land in the most productive manner for the pursuit of happiness and your well being.

4. Similar to fencing question above and related to the goals of sustainability and self-reliance, we’d also like a place that would allow a small chicken coop … I can understand that on lots of an acre or two, neighbors may object to a rooster – that’s the one that creates the early morning noise, but not so the hens. Recently, even large communities like Raleigh and Durham have affirmed that homes with small yards can have – in Durham up to 10 hens, but no rooster … I don’t recall for sure what the Raleigh rule was. What are your thoughts on this?
We encourage small-scale farm production of all types. I keep rabbits on my property. I intend to build a chicken coop as well. Just haven’t gotten to that project yet. There are many small farmers in the extended community who raise chickens, beef, pigs, bees, etc., so as yet, I have relied on my neighbors for these commodities. Personally, I have no problem with roosters either since I am usually up before the roosters are. I think we will leave that up to the vote of the community as to whether we should impose a rooster rule in the future.   At this point there is none.

5. Also, our southern woods are infested with ticks … we’d like to have the freedom to have a few guinea hens to run loose during the day and gobble up the ticks … they are far better at tick control than any other creature – – and that also fits with our mutual dislike of chemicals and sprays.
Guinea hens are not only great for controlling ticks, they are excellent watch “dogs” as well. Highly encouraged.

6. The annual HOA fee is set at $600 … what additional fees / assessment do you envision (i.e., amount and frequency)? From heading a couple HOAs in the past, I can understand that you can’t be precise about predicting the future, but what’s your best guess at this point in time?
We have actually reduced the HOA fee to $300 and as yet have not collected it from any homeowners. At this point, we do not maintain expensive improvements like a lodge or a pool, so our costs are minimal. The trails that connect each lot and the 500 acre nature preserve and the entry sign area do require maintenance, but so far I have carried those costs either from my own pocket or my own labor. The future will be, as you say, difficult to predict. However, I believe there will be sustainability projects that the HOA will want to take on where it will make sense to share the costs as opposed to tackling them as individual families. For example, it might make sense for the HOA to own a tractor to cultivate the community garden and to purchase fuel for it. Some of us have also talked about how much fun it might be to have a zip line system for access and enhanced appreciation of the canyon nature preserve. These commitments will be taken on by common vote of the community. I am careful not to impose costs that reduce sustainability or become a burden to Villagers.

7. How many total lots do you expect to put on the market (i.e., how many neighboring families will be in this community when fully populated)?
There are 30 lots in phase 1. Approximately the same in phase 2. Several families have purchased two adjoining lots. I encourage people to build multiple homes on their lots for extended family where they have enough land, as I plan to do for my children and aging mother. So the total population is difficult to predict. This said, we carefully chose this area for the quality of people who surround the village. They tend to be hard-working, resourceful, honest, open people. I view them as an extension and a vital part of our sustainable community.  We differ from many gated, closed communities in that we strive to maintain excellent, close relationships with our indigenous neighbors. We hope to be of great value to them as they are to us.

3 thoughts on “Neighborhood Rules for a Sustainable Lifestyle

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