Does Puyallup Cohousing have developable land?

Yes.  Mike, the founding member of the group, owns a ~17 acre farm consisting of 3 tax parcels.  The 4 acre and the 6.75 acre parcel are zoned for medium residential development.  Mike will serve in the role of “patient, cohousing-friendly landlord” until the group is ready to buy the land. 

How do you know it’s developable?

We’ve been working with a local Civil Engineer on a feasibility study for development. Several engineering studies were completed in 2021 including: Wetlands, Septic,  and GeoTech.  The local water company has provided a ‘Certificate of Water Availability’.

We met with representatives from Pierce County Development Engineering, Zoning, Fire, and Health on March 23rd, 2022 to get their feedback on our assumptions to make sure that there are no barriers to a clustered cohousing development.  They gave us very positive feedback and suggested the next round of studies for us to pursue.

What size community do we envision?

TBD: The county confirmed that a maximum density of 4 units per acre on septic, or 43 units on the combined 10.75 acres was allowed.  It will be up to the group as to how we develop the community once we grow to a critical mass. It has been suggested that the social dynamics work better if we consider building two smaller communities in phases rather than one large community.

What is on the land right now?

Dirt.  The land has been a farm since at least WWII, mostly growing raspberries with a mix of annual crops like beans or pumpkins.  See the movie on the homepage and the pictures on ‘the land’ tab to take a look.

Are there any issues with proximity to the Puyallup River?

The 2 developable parcels are not within any regulated floodplain or floodway areas and contain no wetlands.  The extreme northeast corner of the 4 acre parcel is within 200 feet of a wetlands boundary. The remaining 3rd parcel borders the Puyallup River for about 800 feet but is not developable due to being zoned for agriculture only.  (Right now this third parcel is just a plowed field, but it could make a really nice CSA, orchard, or park with a little TLC.

Are there any other known issues with the land?

The land has been actively farmed for many years.  There are no known threatened or endangered plant or animal species, historical buildings, contamination, tribal issues or the like.  Engineering studies suggest that the soils are excellent, both structurally and for septic.  There is a right-of-way easement for a gas pipeline on the NW corner of the 6.75 acre parcel; crops are OK but no buildings are allowed on the right-of-way.

Any regional issues?

The Pacific Northwest has produced some truly spectacular earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in the last several hundred years. If you are concerned about either of these events happening in your lifetime, the Pacific Northwest is probably not the place you want to set down roots.  Should Mt Rainier have an eruption of similar magnitude to that of Mt St. Helens, it is possible that a lahar would flow through the Puyallup Valley where the farm is located.

Do we have a target budget? Timeline?

No.  We anticipate partnering with development professionals to establish a budget and timeline in 2023 after we get 1) Preliminary approval to proceed from Pierce County, and 2) A core group agreeing on a site plan, common house design, and unit layouts.   It is not unusual for cohousing projects to take 3-5 years from core group formation to occupancy, and some take much longer.

What is our governance strategy?

We have decided to adopt sociocracy as our decision making and governance strategy. Sociocracy ensures that all voices are heard in a non-hierarchical, consent-based decision making process.  Decisions are delegated to small teams who create well thought out proposals that are sent to the larger group for approval or modification.

What is our legal structure?

We have created a legal entity called “PC Hops Development, LLC”.  This LLC will buy the land, finance the construction loan,  and contract with all of the various professionals to manage and build the project.  

How do we intend to resolve disagreements?

We have standardized on a book called “Nonviolent Communication, A Language of Life” by Marshall Rosenberg.  We expect everyone in the group to get a copy, read it, and use the ideas and techniques.