For those who have ever considered the idea of a survival community, I would like to propose a few ideas for consideration from a real estate developer’s perspective. The idea of cluster communities in rural areas is a growing idea in states including Colorado. The idea is to take some land, say 100 acres, and rather than breaking it up into twenty 5 acre lots, you instead cluster the lots into twenty 1 acre (or less) lots, and leave the remaining acreage as an undeveloped buffer owned by the subdivision association (or a LLC it controls), which is then controlled democratically by the home owners. Taking this a step further for survival purposes, it would be advantageous to have a good part of that common land in crop production and have a working relationship with a farmer, or perhaps work out the entire deal with the farmer who owned the land in the first place to continue farming that portion of land, and hopefully even bring in a little revenue.
Development costs for improving the lots are where this idea really shines. While it is usually a good idea for each home to have its own well, shared septic systems and backup power systems are cheaper if shared. Whether by a large conventional septic system, a mound system, or a mini-sewer plant, a waste water treatment system can be designed for easy and continuing operation after TSHTF. Same goes for large backup generator systems, which can be run off large propane tanks for long term fuel storage, or diesel fuel, which lasts for a good eight years with the stabilizer in it. The costs of a large battery [bank] system, and perhaps a solar array and wind mill can all be added into the development costs. There is also the opportunity to wire for an underground house to house phone or some type of intercom and party line communication system for alert, command, and control. Communications after phone lines go down is often overlooked even though they are the key to tactical coordinated defensive responses. Also, transmissions can give away your position, as well as be monitored.
Also, since the media strives to make “survivalist” a bad word, or as a new generation things instead of people eating bugs and getting voting off the island, the community should rather hold out itself as being and example of alternate energy, green building, green space, off-grid living, and self-reliance living. Think about would you would build into such a development. – Rourke (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/survivalretreat)
JWR Replies: My covenant community concept is a bit different: Start with a 640 acre section of land and subdivide it into 20 to 60 acre parcels, leaving a 20 acre “Commons” green in the center. Also somewhere near the center of the section, set aside a few half acre lots for stores, small businesses, and an acre for a church meeting hall/community center. IMHO, a development with larger parcels and a reserved place for commerce would lend itself to greater self sufficiency and a real sense of community that rourke’s plan outlined above
Other than shared wells, I’m not a big believer in public utilities. I think that having separate family-owned off-grid power systems would be much more resilient than the “single point of failure” created by having a shared power utility. In the region that I’m considering, undeveloped land sells for around $4,000 to $5,000 per acre for 20 acre parcels. So buying a 20 acre chunk costs about the same amount as buying a 1/2 acre lot in the suburbs.
OBTW, I’d like to gauge the level of interest for such a project. If any of the readers of SurvivalBlog have the means and a sincere interest in being part of a survival-oriented covenant community in the inland Pacific Northwest, just send me an e-mail with “Preparedness Community” in the title, and I will file them away until the project gets going.