A Neighborhood on Purpose

In our cohousing community members work together to create a socially rich community that is safe, sustainable, diverse, egalitarian, supportive, attractive and affordable.

Members collaborate to plan and develop their own neighborhood. Homes are owned privately but are deliberately clustered to provide a village-like common space that is protected from vehicle traffic. There is also a common house, which typically includes dining, recreation and childcare facilities and other amenities. In our community there is no effort to establish a religious or philosophical creed; what we share is a desire to live more economically, sustainably, and cooperatively.
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Contact us at info@greenhavencohousing.org

203-903-COHO (2646)

Monday, March 17, 2014

P&Z Hearing on Rocky Corner Continues (Again)

This Wednesday, March 19, Bethany's Planning and Zoning Commission will hold another session of its ongoing hearing on Rocky Corner, the cohousing community we're planning to build on the former Halter Farm property located at the corner of Old Amity Road and Meyers Road.

This week's session is likely to be taken up mostly by questions from the members of the commission. Previous sessions covered presentations by our engineers, architects, and permaculture consultants, as well as comments and questions from members of the public.

There was no shortage of comments from the public. While there was a bit of name-calling and fear-mongering from some of the more excitable opponents of our project, we also heard from lots of Bethany residents who support us and want to see us succeed.

This past weekend, members of the commission toured the site to get a better sense of the layout of the community. Next week (on Monday) the Inland Wetlands Commission will hold another session of its hearing on the project as well.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hearing on Rocky Corner Continues Wednesday

The zoning process continues! We have applied for approval to build an affordable workforce housing community of 30 homes with a working farm. The 32-acre parcel of land we've chosen in Bethany is currently zoned for up to 52 homes, but we'd prefer to set aside more of the land for agriculture and permanent conservation.

The public hearing opened on February 12 with a presentation by our professional consultants. The architects, engineers, and permaculture experts walked the Planning and Zoning Commission through the site plan. 

The public comment period followed and was not completed that evening, so the hearing has been continued to this Wednesday, February 26, at 7:00 p.m., at Bethany Town Hall. 

In addition to a lot of technical information regarding affordable housing, zoning, and site engineering, we presented this inspiring aerial view of the plan created by AppleSeed Permaculture, who have been an excellent resource for site design and sustainable land use.

A view of Rocky Corner as rendered by AppleSeed Permaculture
The illustration shows our 30 homes built around a pedestrian core near the top center, looped by an access road that connects to Old Amity road, which cuts across the lower left-hand corner of the image. The top of this view is more or less northeast, and that's Lake Chamberlain in the extreme upper right-hand corner. Most of the areas we plan to use for raising crops are on either side of Meyers Road, which curves up the left-hand side of the picture.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Doing the Math

Our hearings are coming up fast! The first one is this Monday night, January 27, at Bethany's Town Hall, with the town's Inland Wetlands Commission. Be there if you can; the hearing starts at 8:00 p.m. Then on February 12 we have a hearing before the Planning & Zoning Commission, same location, at 7:30 p.m. Be there too!

Ruralbethany.org is on the case! Here's part of what they have to say:

The proposed zoning change could mean 60 families on 33 acres which is presently zoned for only 10 families.
Once again, that's just wrong. We are building thirty homes, as we've said many times—out loud, in print, and in public. It's odd that a group purporting to tell the truth would so forcefully and unwaveringly repeat something that's clearly false. Perhaps it's too hard a math problem. Let's try this: thirty does not equal sixty.

More to the point, the land is presently zoned for up to fifty-two homes, not ten, with approved plans in place for forty-eight homes. What we're proposing is many fewer. Thirty does not equal fifty-two, nor does it equal forty-eight.
This zoning change would open the town to increased development. There are 45 larger parcels of undeveloped land in Bethany. If they were all built up to the proposed density it would increase Bethany’s population by 6440 people.
Our project is only about a private group building private homes on one privately owned piece of land. We have no interest in any other property in town.

Like all towns in Connecticut, Bethany has to comply with affordable housing laws, so developers are free to propose building far more densely on any of those undeveloped parcels of land right now, as long as they meet health and safety requirements. What landowners in Bethany choose to do or not do with their properties is their business. But even if every property owner in town clamored to sell their land to developers, the town doesn't have to permit additional development once ten percent of the homes in town meet state affordability guidelines. Right now, only two or three homes in Bethany (out of nearly two thousand homes) qualify. In fact, Bethany has been losing population. So it doesn't seem likely that it will suddenly double in size because of our small project.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Design Update + Progress Report

We had a great turnout at our latest potluck, where we showed off details of the site plan for our cohousing community at Rocky Corner in Bethany.

After the meal, there was a presentation summarizing the progress we've made so far in designing our community: choosing where to site the homes, common house, farm elements, access road and parking; the significant engineering work (wells, septic, fire safety) required to make the project possible; the reasoning behind how we've chosen to place the homes in relation to one another and the site; the emphasis on right-sized living spaces and smart, energy-efficient construction along with passive-solar orientation.

Then there was a review of the status of our application to the Town of Bethany for zoning approval. We've got a great legal team working to make sure our project gets approval without undue delay, and our architects and engineers have been busy preparing for the upcoming public hearings. Meanwhile, members of Green Haven have been reaching out to Bethany residents about our plans, holding several information sessions and generally working to drum up support. Finally, we reviewed the timeline and financing plan for the project going forward.

Potlucks are really important for us, because community is the entire reason for our interest in cohousing. It might be easy to forget when we're so busy with meetings and all the work that goes with designing and building your own housing development. We hope to have regular community meals in the common house eventually, once we build it and our homes. For now we'll have to hope all of our potlucks are as well attended as this latest one!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bethany Sets Hearings on Rocky Corner

Our plan to build cohousing off Old Amity Road in Bethany is working its way through the town approvals process. That means public hearings, and anyone who's interested should plan on coming out.

First, we've got a hearing on Monday, January 27, before the Inland Wetlands Commission. That hearing will be held in the gymnasium at Bethany Town Hall, 40 Peck Road, starting at 8:00 p.m. 

The affordable housing application is before the Planning and Zoning Commission, which has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday, February 12, at 7 p.m. (also in the gym at Town Hall).

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Meeting, Potluck + Info Session Sunday

We hope you'll join us this Sunday for an important All Green Haven meeting, potluck, and information session!
  • See the latest site plans and drawings
  • Find out about the current status of our zoning application
  • Hear about our financial goals
For newcomers, we will have a brief information session and the opportunity to get your questions answered. For those exploring membership, it's a chance to socialize and find out more about how the project is coming along. For members, we will be sharing and discussing important information about the next steps forward.

Kids of all ages are welcome.

All GH Meeting, potluck and information session
Sunday, January 12th
4:00-7:00 p.m.
First Universalist Unitarian Society
608 Whitney Avenue, New Haven
RSVP welcome@greenhavencohousing.org
(yea or nay appreciated for planning) 

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Homes + Farmland: Wave of the Present

NPR recently ran a story about suburban developments that include working farmland, in a trend identified as development-supported agriculture. The projects cited in the story are much larger than Rocky Corner, but it's encouraging to see that other people are trying to do something similar to what we're planning—integrating space for farming adjacent to new homes.

According to the story by Luke Runyon of Harvest Public Media, farms "are serving as the latest suburban amenity," riding the wave of the local food movement:

In planning a new neighborhood, a developer includes some form of food production—a farm, community garden, orchard, livestock operation, edible park—that is meant to draw in new buyers, increase values and stitch neighbors together.
Sound familiar? Our vision for a cohousing community at Rocky Corner has the same goals, particularly the part about stitching neighbors together. But there are some important differences between our plan and the developments cited in the NPR story, which are worth spelling out:
  • We are our own developer. The only profit we're making on our project is the reward of getting to live there.
  • We are preserving more open space. One of the development-supported agriculture subdivisions given as examples in the NPR piece sets aside 4 acres out of 240 for farming, which is a tiny percentage of the land. We plan to leave well over half of our 32-acre site as open space, much of it for agricultural uses.
  • We are a self-governing community. As a common-interest ownership association, we will own the farmland and other amenities in common, and will work together to manage our community.
We think the best way to preserve rural character—in Bethany or any other rural community—is through farming. But an individual farmer cannot justify the cost of land in a town like Bethany. Only a community acting together can do that.