• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Leigh Tate
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • Jay Angler
  • Nancy Reading
gardeners:
  • Beau Davidson
  • thomas rubino
  • L. Johnson

Co-opting the PUD (Planned Unit Development)

 
gardener
Posts: 1237
Location: Denver, 6a / BSk, rental house dweller, going back to Wheaton Labs soon
820
5
hugelkultur kids forest garden trees books wofati cooking bike rocket stoves
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi!
Has anyone (edit 1: recently) explored the possibility of co-opting the tool of the PUD (Planned Unit Development) for ALLOWING permaculture, wofatis, mob-grazing, etc?  
This might be anyone in the crowd with a background in civil engineering, real estate development, or architecture.

(Edit 1: I found several after posting this from the awesome "similar threads" feature, but all the threads seem dormant now).


My question:
Why not co-opt the tool of the PUD to make permaculturing not only possible, but the expected norm in regions otherwise saddled with HOA, municipal and/or county level zoning absurdity? This could be in a rural area to defend against zoning changes in the future, or potentially close to or in a town or city.


The Vision:
Imagine a community where having a chicken coop near your house is a right explicitly stated and granted to you by the rules governing the place, and which everyone signs when they buy land there.
The benefit of the PUD is that YOU are writing the rules governing the uses of the lots within the property (provided you bribe convince the fire marshal that what you've outlined is ok).  


Cold water:
I don't know of a county/municipality that would go for this... but maybe you do?


(Edit 2
Tactics: Creative Re-Naming
Farm = Garden
Terrace = Path
Pond = Swale
Willow Feeder = Tool Shed
Chicken = Pet
)


Background-goes-last:
By the way, a PUD is a tool of real estate development usually used to create McMansion Estates, Ticky-Tack-House-Glen, or the like. Typically this is done by creating endless rules about the layout, houses, and landscaping of the place (like, street-widths, property line setbacks, how many blades of grass each front lawn needs, or the minimum size of the fifth and sixth master-bedroom suites). It also usually creates a governing body, often called an HOA (Home-Owners Association) to enforce these rules and conduct small-scale embezzlement fee collection.

Where I live now (Denver area), most of the nearby counties I've looked into have zoning regulations which make 35 acres the minimum size for unrestricted agricultural use (i.e. 34.99 acres can only have 3 cows and 6 chickens...seriously); assuming that land is even zoned for agriculture. This is just my first, fuzzy, attempt to think around the issue.

Cheers!



 
pollinator
Posts: 227
Location: Western North Carolina - Zone 7B stoney
63
hugelkultur dog forest garden trees cooking bee wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ash, I have a few pointers and suggestions for you.  

It seems that you are in the middle of a legislative struggle, where one body is looking to enforce the letter of the law upon you.  My largest suggestion is to make the letter of the law work for you.  There is no other way to study in depth the actual writings of the regulations that inhibit what you want to do, and finding the exceptions, exclusions, and ways to work around their restrictions.  Sometimes, it's simply a change in terminology (as described by Sepp Holzer in one video).  When terracing, he's essentiallly making a pathway.  If he calls it a pathway, there is a council needed to determine ecological effects of a pathway (since he's in a forest area).  So, he simply calls it a garden bed, and plants it with crops.  

For most of the things, I'd ask for forgiveness afterwards, because trying to ask permission would be so laborious trying to explain how simple the things that I was doing.
 
Ash Jackson
gardener
Posts: 1237
Location: Denver, 6a / BSk, rental house dweller, going back to Wheaton Labs soon
820
5
hugelkultur kids forest garden trees books wofati cooking bike rocket stoves
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi William,

Thankfully I'm not in a struggle with a zoning body, I'm just trying to think ahead and find ways to avoid that struggle altogether either on the front end (ask permission) or the back end (beg forgiveness).

Thank you for the advice on renaming: it takes advantage of how the framing of an argument can fundamentally change the argument.

I don't think I've seen that particular Sepp video yet; do you happen to recall it's name/context/url?
Thanks!
 
pollinator
Posts: 596
Location: Southern Arizona. Zone 8b
75
fish bike bee solar woodworking greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Seems to me that it would be much easier to simply buy land where there ISN'T an HOA and no (or very few) restrictions.

The only way you are going to get an HOA with the rules you mention is to start the HOA from scratch WITH those rules.  And if you're starting from scratch, why bother forming an HOA?

Generally speaking, if you buy property outside the city limits, there are far fewer restrictions on what you can do.

For example, in the county I live in, the only restrictions on livestock is that if you want cattle or horses, you need to have more than 1 acre.  Anyone can build their own home here, but if you have more than 4 acres you don't even have to have it inspected (still need a permit), no building inspections, no electrical inspections, no plumbing inspections.
 
Ash Jackson
gardener
Posts: 1237
Location: Denver, 6a / BSk, rental house dweller, going back to Wheaton Labs soon
820
5
hugelkultur kids forest garden trees books wofati cooking bike rocket stoves
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Peter,

You lucky duck! I hope your county/municipality maintains their hands-off approach.

And yes; you're exactly right. It would be much, MUCH easier to buy land where there is no use-based zoning regulations.

Because of my personal situation, I need to stay near the Denver metro area for the next 14.5 years; and the rural counties I'm inspecting around Denver are much more overbearing regarding land use than yours. (New example, Gilpin county says any land zoned for residential use, even if it's 6 acres in the wilderness, can only have 12 chickens or rabbits maximum).


To answer your specific question about 'why create an HOA?', my answer is:

In an area with use-based zoning (be it state, county, or municipal), a planning commission can decide to change the zoning use of your land, often without or despite your entreaty to the contrary, (reference https://www.versaland.com/, where the county placed a moratorium on orchard production on land zoned for agriculture use).

The PUD and ensuing HOA would defend against that. Think of a PUD as a "zoning fortress," where the barrier for unilateral change from the municipal entity is much higher than for "normally" zoned land.

And yes; what I'm describing would be to create a PUD zoning use, and then create the HOA per the typical requirments of creating a PUD. I would then probably write the bylaws of the HOA to have no authority to do anything but host a monthly pot-luck.
 
Peter VanDerWal
pollinator
Posts: 596
Location: Southern Arizona. Zone 8b
75
fish bike bee solar woodworking greening the desert
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Ash Jackson wrote:
Because of my personal situation, I need to stay near the Denver metro area for the next 14.5 years;



How "near"?  Custer, Delta, Saguache counties are within about 4hrs drive and supposedly haven't adopted any building codes, there may be some closer counties with minimally restrictive building codes.

I'm assuming you want to raise meat?  It only takes about 1-2 chickens per person for eggs.  
12 chickens take about 4 months to raise for meat, that's about 3 chickens per month.  Even if the limit is 12, you could probably grow 20 without the county noticing, and if they did notice they usually give you a few weeks to resolve the issue, plenty of time to slaughter the excess.

In fact, unless the neighbors complain, in most areas they never check.   If you think you have a neighbor that will bitch to the county, keep exactly 12 chickens as close to that neighbor as permitted by code.  When they complain and the county sends someone out, let them count your chickens (they don't count if they're not hatched yet and then offer to move them further away from the whiny neighbor.
Now there will be a record that you obey the code and are reasonable, and that you have a neighbor that likes to waste their time.  They are unlikely to send anyone else out in the future.

Or just buy enough land that none of your neighbors will be close enough to notice.
 
Ash Jackson
gardener
Posts: 1237
Location: Denver, 6a / BSk, rental house dweller, going back to Wheaton Labs soon
820
5
hugelkultur kids forest garden trees books wofati cooking bike rocket stoves
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Peter,
Thank you for weighing in, especially on the chicken production numbers; as I do want to raise chickens for eggs and meat.

A building code is a bit different than a zoning, or land development, code (all three counties have the latter),

However! The Custer county code appears quite farm friendly, from the county zoning regulations:

Landowners, residents, and visitors must be prepared to accept the activities, sights, sounds and smells of Custer County’s agricultural operations as a normal and necessary aspect of living in a county with a strong rural character and a healthy ranching and farming sector. Those with an urban sensitivity may perceive such activities, sights, sounds and smells as inconveniences, eyesores, noises and odors. However, state law and county policy provides that ranching or other agricultural activities and operations within Custer County shall not be considered to be nuisances, as long as they are operated in conformance with the law and in a non‐negligent manner.



I should point out, that passage above is unique among the seven or so other counties zoning regulations I've skimmed, and seems quite encouraging on the broader scale.

I also learned from the Custer county zoning code that Colorado is a 'right to farm' state! I'm not sure of the implications yet, but it's an interesting tidbit I would not have found otherwise; so thank you for that, as well.

For me, personally, I'll take your lessons in 'neighbor management' to heart. As beautiful as the Saguache and Westcliffe areas are, I suspect they're too far for me to make the round-trip twice a week.

Thanks again!
 
Posts: 14
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Having seen a number of communal and intentional communities dissolve over the years, I love the PUD idea. If someone wants to cash out, it's done on an individual basis and the community doesn't need to worry about buying people out, paying for labor donated over the years, etc. It becomes a simple real estate sale, plain and simple.

Here in Michigan the laws are pretty broad to allow a lot of creativity in setting up a PUD. It's convincing the local city or township that it's a good idea where the issues pop up. As anyone living in a rural area can attest to, you often don't get the sharpest tools in the shed sitting on the local planning commission.

If you can find a PUD within your state that has adopted a plan similar to yours, this helps getting the idea approved. This way you have a little leverage in negotiations since you can say "Well it was allowed here, I'll have my attorney look into it" Any mention of an attorney usually gets them to open up their reception to new ideas!

Having a plan taken from an adjacent state helps and needless to say, the further away it is the harder it'll be to get your project approved. In a nutshell, don't try to reinvent the wheel, find a similar project and work your ideas in from that.
 
Posts: 314
Location: Tip of the Mitt, Michigan
44
monies cooking building
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi, and yes in Michigan you can set up a PUD.  But the county can change its mind about something in your pud plans, after everyone and everything is in place, and you are out of luck. Our community has issues and have to pay fines (read extortion) to the county all the time. HOAs can play their little games, but the powers that be run the show. So be careful, and run for county commissioner if you want to be left alone.
 
steward
Posts: 6533
Location: Carnation, WA (Western Washington State / Cascadia / Pacific NW)
2014
8
hugelkultur purity forest garden books food preservation
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've had quite a bit of experience with HOA's and PUD's - including serving as treasurer on HOA boards and being in charge of their finances.

While I understand the derision thrown their way, these organizations are only as good as their leadership, and can be beneficial to the homeowners.

Some of the upsides:

HOA's or PUD's have been shown to hold or increase home/land value by more than any dues paid them.

An HOA can own open space, parks, right of ways, etc. and have them determined "non-residential open space" for lower property taxes. This open space could be shared grazing fields, pea patches, etc.

An HOA for a large community I worked with was able to set up an irrigation system that could pump water out of storm water retention ponds.

The problem with the assumption that HOA dues are robbery, or horrible comes from how builders of a subdivision (or conversion) will understate what a typical dues amount will be. Then once the builder is done and gone, the HOA might be left with surprise expenses or an underfunded reserve account and then needs to raise the dues. It sucks, but there's no getting around some costs.

I served on the board of an HOA that was a small townhouse style condo association. Most of the residents were retired and on fixed incomes. They had common roofs, common walls/siding, fencing, landscaping, parking lots, utilities, garbage dumpsters to maintain. Residents would come to a board meeting to complain about the dues. Just listening in they learned the all volunteer board members had gotten quotes from 3 vendors for the fence repair, they were trying to find a better landscape maintenance person, but all the others cost twice as much, so they were organizing work parties to clean up what he missed. There was no property management company, no one bilking funds - it was hardworking volunteers. The complainers immediately understood the costs were as low as they could be.

If the HOA will own open space or right of ways, or have a shared ponds/irrigation system, there will be dues/costs. If not, and it's only a rules organization, maintaining the right group of people to keep the rules beneficial to your vision would be the main goal or challenge.

Have you looked into agrihoods? Neighborhoods centered around farms or pea patches instead of golf courses? That might be closer to what you're imagining. And there might be PUD structure ideas or examples within those models.

 
master gardener
Posts: 7827
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
3740
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jocelyn Campbell wrote:

Just listening in they learned the all volunteer board members had gotten quotes from 3 vendors for the fence repair, they were trying to find a better landscape maintenance person, but all the others cost twice as much ... The complainers immediately understood the costs were as low as they could be.

This is a double-edged sword as well. One of Hubby's friends lives in a complex and because of "complaints of costs" they keep doing cheap repairs on the back decks instead of doing a better, more expensive job based on our wet climate and having the decks last 10-20 years without needing further repairs.

Also, I think people underestimate their responsibility to participate when they buy into HOA communities. It *always* costs more when you pay someone else to do something than if you do it yourself. A friend years ago who was very pleased with her townhouse situation had moved into one that was very clear up front that participation in both meetings and work parties was required. It really helped people to get to know fellow members and that helped in situations such as needing someone to watch a child briefly or get a lift somewhere.

One issue with HOA type things in my area is the legal costs of getting anything changed. I'd certainly recommend wiggle room! The example from a different friend is that when the HOA was set up approximately 30 years ago, to make the community look cohesive, houses were required to have cedar shake roofs or clay tiles. However wildfire risk has increased since then, and there's clearly higher risk of fire spread with cedar roofs than asphalt. Although personally, I'd prefer less toxic alternatives to asphalt, I also don't want that entire community to go up like a Roman Candle, so the "agreement" made between the counsel and the Fire Marshall to allow asphalt without changing the HOA legal document, seemed a fair thing to do. Some HOA rules seem to be written to demand absolute conformity with rigid behavior - others seem to be more complaints driven based on someone pushing the envelope - both extremes can lead to problems as it is not a perfect world!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
Posts: 6533
Location: Carnation, WA (Western Washington State / Cascadia / Pacific NW)
2014
8
hugelkultur purity forest garden books food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jay Angler wrote:
One issue with HOA type things in my area is the legal costs of getting anything changed. I'd certainly recommend wiggle room! The example from a different friend is that when the HOA was set up approximately 30 years ago, to make the community look cohesive, houses were required to have cedar shake roofs or clay tiles. However wildfire risk has increased since then, and there's clearly higher risk of fire spread with cedar roofs than asphalt. Although personally, I'd prefer less toxic alternatives to asphalt, I also don't want that entire community to go up like a Roman Candle, so the "agreement" made between the counsel and the Fire Marshall to allow asphalt without changing the HOA legal document, seemed a fair thing to do. Some HOA rules seem to be written to demand absolute conformity with rigid behavior - others seem to be more complaints driven based on someone pushing the envelope - both extremes can lead to problems as it is not a perfect world!


Yes. My heavens, yes.

There are By Laws and a lot of related documents such as architectural covenants that require legal filing. Getting those changed legally can be cost prohibitive let alone difficult to get all the residents to vote at all, let alone vote in agreement.

Some PUD or HOA rules are not part of legal filings, and are thereby less formal, though they are much more difficult to enforce. And even if the PUD has no shared land or other share utilities costs, just the cost of annual reports to maintain a current and active board of directors, plus any other of the legal fees discussed here, might mean at least a meager amounts of dues for residents.

Note that when you buy a home or property under a PUD or HOA, those rules are legally binding. I know of a homeowner who lost his house over eggplant and teal trim (exterior trim paint colors). His HOA insisted and later proved those were not approved colors. The homeowner took them to court, lost, and the legal fees (upwards of $40k) meant he had to sell his house to recover. So when PUD/HOA's are involved, doing first and asking forgiveness later isn't always recommended.

And yes, the county or local municipality laws trump/override any PUD/HOA rules. IIRC, I think one HOA tried to have a rule against satellite dishes, but local law overrode that so they had to update their rules.

In probably most if not all cases, if the local building codes would not allow a wofati, then a PUD would be unable to override that.

Some municipalities even have codes/laws/rules about keeping lawns mowed, so for those attempting a permaculture polyculture meadow, even their PUD rules wouldn't be able to override that either.

But really, so many more municipalities are planning and preparing for food resilience, pollinator habitat, and protecting water resources that I think many many councils and legal representatives are receptive to change.

Having a group of homeowners in a PUD is a larger body of constituents than just one radical homeowner, which I think would mean that any representative of that group would have more sway.

So the reasons to have a PUD might not be as immediately change making as you wrote in the OP, Ash; but there could still be longer tail upsides. Or upsides in other ways.

Jay Angler wrote:A friend years ago who was very pleased with her townhouse situation had moved into one that was very clear up front that participation in both meetings and work parties was required. It really helped people to get to know fellow members and that helped in situations such as needing someone to watch a child briefly or get a lift somewhere.


This is a beautiful upside to an HOA. I love this example!


 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
Posts: 6533
Location: Carnation, WA (Western Washington State / Cascadia / Pacific NW)
2014
8
hugelkultur purity forest garden books food preservation
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Seriously check out these agrihood models:

http://livenorthriverfarms.com/blog/agrihoods-across-the-country/

They might be more conventional farming based, but I live and work with an organic farming community. They are well aware of Allan Savory, permaculture, perennial food systems and the like. It's not that far of a stretch.
 
pollinator
Posts: 203
Location: Proebstel, Washington, USDA Zone 6B
82
trees earthworks
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I might expand on this later. This is the first time I have heard of it, but a Community Development Corporation might be a better vehicle for this sort of thing.

https://community-wealth.org/strategies/panel/cdcs/index.html

https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/what-a-difference-1000-makes-part-one?utm_content=buffer2261b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer&fbclid=IwAR0YJnkpwV-qAXuxaMW7wKC86YFz3KRAjoDA80OxrF4U_YEnTTv6GlJjaa8
 
We don't have time to be charming! Quick, read this tiny ad:
Better Wood Heat: DIY Rocket Mass Heaters (8-Movie Set) by Paul Wheaton
https://permies.com/wiki/134176/Wood-Heat-DIY-Rocket-Mass
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic