Slow & Steady
Just like in Aesop's Fable of the The Tortoise and the Hare, our mantra for these past many months has been, "Slow and Steady Wins the Race". Even though the folks from the various agencies that we've worked with are good people, there has been some frustration along the way in working through the many regulations, but we just keep putting one foot in front of the other and we now appear to be approaching the light at the end of the regulatory tunnel.
It literally makes me giddy with excitement. Any one of these regulatory hurdles could have been a showstopper, but it now seems that we're on the verge of clearing all of the big regulatory hurdles. We are getting ever closer to making Heartwood Phase 2 a reality. Our patience and persistence are paying off. We are about to enter a new and exciting phase of Phase 2 development.
You may recall from our last P2 Update newsletter that it was looking like the water flow assumptions in the Colorado Department of Public Health regulations were going to require us to complete a long and expensive Note 2 analysis even though our actual future water use will be significantly below the threshold which triggers that requirement. The big and exciting news is that because we have kept detailed records for many years of how much water each Heartwood home has used and how many people have lived in each home, we were able to show the health department that after adding the 14 Phase 2 homes, we will be below the Note 2 analysis threshold. Our engineer advised us that we were very unlikely to get an exception from the normal water flow assumptions the health department uses, but we persisted in our communications with the health department and in the end they decided that we did not have to compete the costly and time consuming Note 2 analysis. Huge news! So exciting to be able to move forward without that delay and expense!
Our other big remaining regulatory hurdle was the requirement to obtain an emergency access easement. You may recall that even though we have an emergency access road, the neighbors whose land the road crosses between our land and the county road were not willing to sell us a legal easement. They are nice neighbors that we get along with well, but they were afraid an easement might reduce their property value or expose them to liability.
The county regulations provide that the emergency access requirement can be waived based on a written approval of the fire department and the county planning engineer. To that end, we've have several onsite tours of our land with the fire department, county planners, and a fire mitigation service during which we came up with a plan to greatly beef up our fire mitigation defensible space around our housing cluster and along our primary access road (Heartwood Lane) in lieu of obtaining the emergency access easement. The fire department has agreed to the waiver and wrote a letter to the county planners stating as much. The county planners have yet to decide whether they are on board with the waiver, but during their onsite tour yesterday, they seemed receptive to following the fire department's lead -– at least they didn't seem opposed to it. :-)
One thing that probably helped us in all this is that we've been very fire conscious for many years, collaborating with the fire department to mitigate the fire danger around our homes and qualifying as a Firewise community.
More good news is that there seems to be a bit of a silver lining to Covid for Heartwood. There is suddenly a wave of interested people wanting to flee big cities, reconnect with nature, and foster community in their lives. We've had lots more people visiting our website, making inquiries, and coming for visits. We are now up to 19 Phase 2 Associate Member (P2AM) households. Welcome aboard Marta & Rob, Todd & Jame (and new baby!), Sue & Steve, Grace & Fred, Leslie & Jeff, Janice, and Ann!
Another Covid silver lining has been our monthly P2AM Zoom gatherings. We had planned to host a gathering of Phase 2 Associate Members back in April. We had to switch that over to Zoom, about which I was initially pretty disappointed, but which has actually been a blessing in disguise. We have now held five monthly P2AM Zoom gatherings with another one tomorrow. With P2AM's scattered all over the country, in-person gatherings would have been very difficult and infrequent. The Zoom gatherings have been a great way for the P2AM's to learn about Heartwood and for current Heartwood members and P2AM's to all get to know each other and begin to form close connections.
The Path Ahead
With the clearing of those regulatory hurdles, our path ahead looks brighter than ever. Our next steps are to open Phase 2 Full Membership and apply for Preliminary Plat approval.
If becoming a P2 Associate Member means, “I’m very interested in living in Heartwood Phase 2. Here’s my $1000 fully refundable deposit to hold my spot.”, becoming a P2 Full Member means, “I am fully committed to living in Heartwood Phase 2. Here’s my $12,000 non-refundable deposit to hold my spot.” With significant money about to be spent on engineering, surveying, and other development costs to prepare our Preliminary Plat application, we need to know if we have enough seriously committed households. We are also now at a point of greater certainty about the likely success of the development so the risk is reduced for the households who are ready to take that next step of becoming Full Members. The time is right to open Full Membership.
There's a lot of work that needs to happen before opening Full Membership including updating cost estimates for lot development and home construction, deciding whether custom or production homes will be offered, and having a Full Membership contract drawn up detailing the rights and responsibilities of the P2 development company (Tara Development LLC) and the Full Members. We want to be able to provide P2AM's with as much information as possible for them to make their Full Membership decision. Given the work that needs to get done and the fact that I'll be spending the next three weeks rowing down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, Full Membership will probably open in early 2021. (The Grand Canyon is the most distant section of the huge Colorado Plateau, which is the amazing red rock canyon wilderness in our backyard.)
Because households stepping up to become Full Members now do so with less information than households who may join later, the early households will be rewarded for the extra risk they are taking (making a decision with less information). The early birds will receive a $10,000 credit against the eventual purchase of their P2 lot. They will also reserve their spot in the lot and carport selection queues and be able to participate in the planning and design of P2. And perhaps most importantly, they will reserve their spot in P2. With only 14 spots available and the huge surge in interest in Heartwood, P2 will probably sell out quickly.
If you're interested in a greater sense of peace and belonging in your life and a healthier lifestyle fostered by living in community and close to Nature, we invite you to get involved. Although our community gatherings are limited to the outdoors, we are welcoming visitors and our guests rooms are available (with amped up hygiene precautions). Click here to go to our Plan a Visit webpage or click here to send an email to Sandy. She can help you reserve one of our common house guest rooms.
If you've been on the fence about becoming an Associate Member, don't despair about the fact that we already have 19 Associate Member households. Once Full Membership opens and the $12,000 non-refundable deposit is required, there will undoubtedly be some turnover. If you are seriously interested and would like to get involved with Heartwood and our Associate Members group, including participating in our monthly Zoom gatherings, we'd strongly encourage you to get in the Phase 2 queue by becoming an Associate Member. Click here for info on becoming an Associate Member. Phase 2 will sell out on a first come, first served basis.
As always, if you have any questions, simply reply to this email. We're happy to answer any and all questions. We've posted answers to frequently asked questions on the Phase 2 page on our website and also the FAQ page.
Yours in Community,
Phase 2 Project Manager
The Phase 2 Update newsletter provides periodic updates on our progress in developing the second phase of Heartwood Cohousing. To have Heartwood newsletters delivered right to your inbox, click on the GET IN TOUCH button at the bottom of this page.