Breakfast bagels and coffee for all aspiring ecovillage and cohousing founders! If you dream of starting your own country community, come meet Joel Bartlett, founding member of Altair Ecovillage a growing community in small town Kimberton, PA, southwest of Philadelphia in historic Chester County. Joel says...
Altair is going into its 16th year, and currently consists of three families who have invested in the project. We follow the traditional Cohousing model, but have recently renamed ourselves an EcoVillage. We are looking to build 35 units for multi-family, ranging in size from studios to four-bedroom units. We have a Agreement of Sale for an 8 acre site in Kimberton village. We have purchased homes adjacent to the open land to assure we have access. Currently, we are working with the Planning Commission of the Township to update the Zoning to include an EcoVillage.
Over the years, Altair has presented our concept to the six Townships in and around Phoenixville, have worked with three other developers, looked seriously at over a dozen sites, and have had at least 300 different people attend meetings and workshops. We have aligned with several other regional initiatives to share resources and potential members. Two highlights: 1) a design charette attended by seventeen families with a Swiss architect on a portion of the Camp Hill Village Kimberton Hills property – the farmers held sway on this one, lobbying to keep the land natural. 2) purchase of an eight-acre farm behind houses in the center of Kimberton Village, which we designed as a mixed use facility, featuring a market place, an elder care facility, and several housing clusters – this one we could not pursue because it was land-locked, and the neighbor would not sell us an easement to our land. Yes, we lost money on that effort.
We are proud that we have hung in there, small though we are, and feel close to succeeding with the current site under consideration and the combination of funding, governmental participation, and a Seller potentially willing to negotiate an Agreement of Sale without full payment up front. Also, we have adopted the name “EcoVillage,” because we feel this more adequately describes our effort to work with healing the planet.
There is much more to say about our extensive experience, but let me leave that for later when we meet!