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Finding Land With Unrestricted Use

 
Posts: 21
Location: East flank of the South Mountain, Maryland Blue Ridge
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So many places, in particular the homesteading groups on FB, all state that the best place with the least restrictions is rural Missouri.  Good growing, 4 seasons, decent land, good prices.  I guess that is good enough for some folks.  The flip side of unregulated counties is that their services are usually crap, under-resourced fire departments, minimal police assistance for crime, awful roads, etc.

I would suggest places or states with a real enforceable right to farm law.  The entire state of Maryland has a great right to farm law.  Neighbors cannot do anything about the animal noise or smells, or what we do with the property as long as we follow the very easily found and very easily understood regulations.  Your house needs to comply with the IBC, but your farm and animal buildings do not.  You only need a zoning permit for ag buildings, to make sure your setbacks are correct, but no building permits are needed or issued.  and even a zoning permit is not needed until you hit 600sqft.  If you put power in, then you need an electrical permit, same with plumbing, but you can build it any way or how ever you want.  

They do want electrical permits if you install solar to your outbuildings and you need a permit for a composting toilet.  But all of that is not that harmful compared to the protections you get from jerk neighbors in how you farm or what you farm.  We had jerk neighbors on both sides who called animal control daily - who always told them that there is nothing to enforce regarding farm animals.  Luckily both jerk neighbors moved.

I hear folks recommending Maine or Vermont or Montana, while nice in practice, I am not sure a 5 month winter is a worthwhile tradeoff for some regulation.

 
Posts: 16
Location: Indiana
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Alec Buchanan wrote:So... how are other permies (legally) catching their rainwater? Or (legally) using off-grid solar? Or (legally) composting humanure? Any natural builders that have gone through the trouble of permitting and regulations? Are people really waiting until they find a place with "no restrictions" before they begin their permie lives?

It seems like it'd cost a fortune for me to do things by the book. I also wouldn't be allowed to have an off-grid solar setup. Building a permittable home, with all its requirements, would be completely impossible without joining the rat race.
Am I the only person here that thinks it is just as important for people to live responsibly (earth care, people care) as it is to follow the rules? I'm not advocating for recklessness or ignorance, but I do think that waiting for laws to catch up with the permaculture world is unrealistic. I doubt permies are going to change the world by following the rulebook, and since there is so much urgency to repair and nurture the planet, shouldn't we reprioritize? I'm not worried about getting a slap on the wrist from an official if it means I get to live the life I am supposed to live. Totally worth it.  

Just saying.... I don't think I would have ever become a permie if the motto was "follow the rules".
Also, just saying... you CAN get away with permaculture - just DO IT! There are lots of ways to make it happen, and you don't need a place with no restrictions.

This is planet Earth. Can I get an amen, or am I really that radical? Anyone?



I'll give you an "Amen", with a caveat or two.

Solar power is not regulated; there is no written requirement in any county I have searched for land in that one must use a local power company (connect back to the grid). That was never a concern of mine. Composting toilets in lieu of septic are legal in several states. Water in several states can be stored in tanks and pumped back into the house.

With that said, it seems the permaculture lifestyle is becoming increasingly harder for those who want to do it right. If you are legally paying taxes on a property, you WILL be assessed annually. This requires an assessor to visit your property, or even drive by. If you catch this assessor at the wrong time, maybe having a bad day, they could easily get code enforcement out to your property if they see something they don't like (or something that questions legality). Only city, county or state owned property can be assessed by guesstimating.

I want to spread my permacultural wings and get to it. I would be peeved, however, if I bought acreage in the wrong area or unknowingly tick off county commissioners trying to simply my life.

Hence the reason for wanting as close to unrestricted use property as humanly possible.



 
Roger Klawinski
Posts: 16
Location: Indiana
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Mark Dominesey wrote:So many places, in particular the homesteading groups on FB, all state that the best place with the least restrictions is rural Missouri.  Good growing, 4 seasons, decent land, good prices.  I guess that is good enough for some folks.  The flip side of unregulated counties is that their services are usually crap, under-resourced fire departments, minimal police assistance for crime, awful roads, etc.

I would suggest places or states with a real enforceable right to farm law.  The entire state of Maryland has a great right to farm law.  Neighbors cannot do anything about the animal noise or smells, or what we do with the property as long as we follow the very easily found and very easily understood regulations.  Your house needs to comply with the IBC, but your farm and animal buildings do not.  You only need a zoning permit for ag buildings, to make sure your setbacks are correct, but no building permits are needed or issued.  and even a zoning permit is not needed until you hit 600sqft.  If you put power in, then you need an electrical permit, same with plumbing, but you can build it any way or how ever you want.  

They do want electrical permits if you install solar to your outbuildings and you need a permit for a composting toilet.  But all of that is not that harmful compared to the protections you get from jerk neighbors in how you farm or what you farm.  We had jerk neighbors on both sides who called animal control daily - who always told them that there is nothing to enforce regarding farm animals.  Luckily both jerk neighbors moved.

I hear folks recommending Maine or Vermont or Montana, while nice in practice, I am not sure a 5 month winter is a worthwhile tradeoff for some regulation.



I LOVE IBC Code.

You only need an 18 square foot bathroom and 150 square foot of living space to pass.
 
Posts: 60
Location: Currently located in central OK. Farmstead location is in northern VT.
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For us, a lot of consideration went into what we were willing to compromise on and what we were not. Our area is pretty low restriction wise but there are state septic rules and rules about how many homes and what defines a home vs. a camp and all that. Some stuff can be skirted a bit or a workaround found but some stuff not so much. However - culture, access to goods and services while still being somewhere quiet with stars at night, state politics, potential for making an income from the farm, etc.. All of that was pretty important too. So I guess it comes down more to which regulations/restrictions you can put up with and which you cannot. There are very few completely unrestricted places left and they are going to be far far away from any degree of civilization (which may be just fine for you). The flip side of a completely unrestricted area is that while you may be wanting  to be a steward your land and to care for it and improve it, your neighbor may not be so progressive. No restrictions means for everyone. Including the folks who think climate change is a Chinese hoax and think the best solution to any animal getting on their property, domestic or not, is to shoot it.

Go hang out in the off grid/homesteading fb groups and think about those folks with zero regulations. It could be disastrous. The other day there was a lady asking what to do with about 80 acres of wetlands on her property and most of the responses may as well have said, "pave it and soak it in roundup". And what about regulations for loggers or tar sands or anything else like that? I am all about my freedom but there are definitely some individuals and some companies that I would worry about were they to have unfettered access to exploiting nature however they see fit.

the Permies folks would create something incredible without regulation.

The QAnon folks probably not so much.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 904
Location: Southern Oregon
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Roger - my understanding is that property taxes are a state matter, and how they are assessed varies. Our property has multiple zones, and we have multiple choices on taxation. While we have only been in Oregon for 1 1/2 years, the assessor has not been out and we would know as our property is gated and not much is visible from the road. In our county at least, code violations are only investigated if private citizens complain, other agencies don't have the right.

In California, certain behaviors trigger a new assessment. It does not happen automatically.
 
Roger Klawinski
Posts: 16
Location: Indiana
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Stacy Witscher wrote:Roger - my understanding is that property taxes are a state matter, and how they are assessed varies. Our property has multiple zones, and we have multiple choices on taxation. While we have only been in Oregon for 1 1/2 years, the assessor has not been out and we would know as our property is gated and not much is visible from the road. In our county at least, code violations are only investigated if private citizens complain, other agencies don't have the right.

In California, certain behaviors trigger a new assessment. It does not happen automatically.



Western states must have it made. In this town, the assessor will generally come through in March to do their "thing".

Suppose I need to look in Oregon?
 
Stacy Witscher
pollinator
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Oregon is lovely, although our area is growing and therefore, prices are increasing. But my main point was things vary and you have to decide what you are willing to live with. Southern Oregon ticked a lot of our boxes, and our property in particular ticked a lot more.
 
pollinator
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Roger, what is

I LOVE IBC Code.

please?
 
Roger Klawinski
Posts: 16
Location: Indiana
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John C Daley wrote:Roger, what is

I LOVE IBC Code.

please?



Counties states that go by IBC - International Building Code - have less stringent restrictions on dwelling size, for one. Minimum standards for a dwelling are 150 square feet (a tiny house), to name one perk off the top of my head.
 
Mark Dominesey
Posts: 21
Location: East flank of the South Mountain, Maryland Blue Ridge
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Some counties are more restrictive and use the American building code, but in true ag areas, the IBC can be shown to all that is needed for a safe dwelling.

In my own state, here's what they state:

MBPS - The Maryland Building Performance Standards (Maryland applicable building codes and standards)
Maryland's law related to building codes is called the Maryland Building Performance Standards (MBPS). It requires each jurisdiction in Maryland to use the same edition of the same building codes that are the International Building Code (IBC), the International Residential Code (IRC), and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The State has modified the IBC and the IRC to coincide with other Maryland laws. The International Building Code (IBC), the International Residential Code (IRC), and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), with modifications by the State, constitute the Maryland Building Performance Standards (MBPS).
 
Posts: 32
Location: Finland, Minnesota Zone 4a
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Wow, fun topic, so much to say here!  One thing that I think has been ignored in this discussion is the community/local culture factor.  Please, I beg of all young and ambitious homesteaders, do your research on the local community and culture before just buying land in some completely random location half way across the country!  I'm an incredibly lucky homesteader who just happened somewhat by chance to settle in an awesome community with little restrictions (and even less enforcement) here in northern Minnesota about a decade ago.  When I began staying in a wall tent on my friends property 12 years ago and they were legally living completely off-grid with no solar (no electicity at all), no well, no septic, no driveway, no immediate neighbors (no complaints), composting their poop and living in a 120 square foot hand tool built log cabin with their 4 year old kid, I began to think "Huh, this is my kinda place maybe I can settle here and eventually have a family and live a life the way humans ought to!"  Fast forward 12 years and I and my wife now have four kids and our own off-grid property where we are attempting to start a permie intentional community of autonomous homesteads just down the road from my friends property.  When I first came to my friends property, I could have cared less about the outside or larger “community” or “culture”, I was just following my crazy homesteader friends out to the edge of civilization to learn how to live off the land.  Honestly though, that outside “community/culture” is the main thing that has kept us here.  Anyhow, I just would like to state, that the “community/culture” factor is every bit as important as the codes/enforcement etc……. unless you happen to be one of those rare humans that really is more or less a hermit (or hermit-like family unit).

Anyhow, I can personally vouch for my little NE Minnesota community as having few restrictions and being generally very tolerant and used to different lifestyles (but yes we aren’t all that far from Canada eh?).  I won’t go into too much detail on the public forum, but feel free to PM if you want more info on our community.  
 
pollinator
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The flip side of a completely unrestricted area is that while you may be wanting  to be a steward your land and to care for it and improve it, your neighbor may not be so progressive. No restrictions means for everyone. Including the folks who think climate change is a Chinese hoax and think the best solution to any animal getting on their property, domestic or not, is to shoot it.



This is super important! You could end up with a junkyard next door, vehicles leaking toxic fluids into the groundwater. You could end up with an outdoor shooting range (and I love to shoot, but that happening 24/7 would get old quickly). Or a dog kennel. I love dogs. But not 50 of them fenced in and barking at all hours.
So think carefully about what unrestricted really could lead to.

One thing that I think has been ignored in this discussion is the community/local culture factor.  Please, I beg of all young and ambitious homesteaders, do your research on the local community and culture before just buying land in some completely random location half way across the country!



This is also a major concern to think about. I once had a nice property that I had ideas to develop into a small homestead. Price was good, soil was great, south facing slope, lots of potential. But the neighbors turned out to be very conservative republicans. A neighbor’s political ideas are irrelevant to me, and to each his own. But in casual conversations it became clear they were quite opposed to my ‘hippie progressive thinking’, and made it obvious they would work to oppose anything I did there that wasn’t ‘white picket fence’. Legally I was permitted to do the things I wanted, but I decided it just wasn’t worth it and sold the land.

It’s very difficult to find the perfect balance that will allow a simple off grid, composting toilet lifestyle, but still be in a good location with okay neighbors and tolerable weather. That 11 acres in Maine looked like a fairly decent option.
 
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Community/local culture and cheap land can be an challenge.

I see many large subdivided lands with minimal restrictions and cheap entry have very big meth problems. Basically anyone with $3-$5k and buy in and you can get a lot of meth heads. Puna Hawaii is a great example. If you spend $5k you will most likely live next to a bunch of sketch tweakers. If you spend $300k-$500k you will probably be next to a finely cultured transplanted hobby farm owner. Real Estate – Location–Location

I judge a place a lot on the vibe I get. Many rural place just have a nice respectable vibe, they my not support liberal views but they in general are well mannered and have great respect for the community.
Other places people seem to have a low mean disrespectful vibe. No much good happens in a backwards places.

I have been looking for a winter spot in the South US. I am to the point where I need to visit places and see just what kind of people live there.
 
pollinator
Posts: 228
Location: Kachemak Bay, Alaska (usda zone 6, ahs heat zone 1, lat 59 N, coastal, koppen Dfc)
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Zillow is a great resource.   I remember seeing some very reasonably priced old but liveable homes on small acreage in southeast Kansas on Zillow.  In all likelihood your 22k isn't a lifetime pension and an income source will be needed and this is a real consideration.  Alaska outside of incorporated towns and cities is a great place, though land is not always cheap and there may be borough or state level regulations.  As far as I can tell, if you are willing to work hard here there is always work to be had, but maybe that's true all over this great country, or maybe I'm just lucky??  Another one I personally looked into is Terlingua TX.  Very cheap land and few restrictions.  I'm not sure how easy it is to find work there, and its true desert, but  a beautiful place and great vibe.  I wish someone had told me about FIRE movement ideas (or maybe they did but I just didn't listen) 20 years ago...That is one way to be able to devote your life to permaculture.  Its also worth looking into other countries, like Georgia, Albania, Bulgaria, Central and South American countries.  Digital nomads including remote English teachers, can find countries with easy immigration policies and lower cost of living.  Best of luck to you, and success and freedom to all.
 
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