Bethany’s getting a new housing community, one focused on just that: building homes and the neighborhood that goes with it.
Green Haven, Connecticut’s first co-housing community, recently optioned 31 acres of land in Bethany on the site of an old dairy farm. After town inspection for zoning and sewer drainage, the group can purchase the land.
Jack Nork, member of Green Haven, currently lives in Bethany. He said the group will preserve the country character of Bethany and following the town’s conservation plan. The land is located off of Route 63, near the Woodbridge Line.
“Bethany is a beautiful, rural community,” said Nork.
But why co-housing? Everyone had their own reasons for wanting to live in this type of intentional community, with separate homes but shared buildings for cooking, guest rooms, offices, craft spaces, and outdoor areas for gardening, farming, and animals.
“Suburban life has evolved into one of isolation,” Nork said, with no neighbor interaction.
Green Haven is looking to reverse that, a sentiment echoed by another longtime member, Dick Margulis. He said that he’s always had a problem with suburban development and the ailienation he feels it causes.
“I just wanted community,” Margulis said, who currently lives in Westville.
For All Ages
This community aims to be multi-generational, with young professionals, families, and retirees. Amy Romano of Milford has been a member of Green Haven for almost a year, along with her husband and their children.
“We love where we live, but we don’t feel a connection to the neighborhood,” said Romano. She also said that she’d rather have her children immersed in learning about community and co-existence.
When prompted by Romano, her mother, eight-year-old Lucy O’Brien responded that her favorite thing to build with Legos is Green Haven.
The real Green Haven won’t be made of Legos. In fact, the members are paying very close attention to what building materials will be used, including locally sourced wood. They will also incorporate alternative energy sources, like geothermal, into the design.
Centerbrook Architects and Planners, which designed Kroon Hall, Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies building, are on board to design Green Haven’s structures. The group is aiming for 25 to 35 modest size homes. About 12 families are committed to moving onto the property.
Marie Pulito and her partner plan to bring their menagerie of alpacas, chickens, ducks, and cats. Like other group members, for Pulito sustainability is key.
“Own less, share more,” she said, summing up the group’s mission.
Instead of an outside developer, Green Haven members are the developers. They own a for-profit company, which does not take a profit, for the purpose of investing and raising money to build their home.
“It’s a way of being able to design your home and to enjoy community without a lot of money,” said Joanna Heller, a member from Cos Cob, N.Y.
“The canvas is clean now,” Nork said. “We can design it from the ground up.”
While treading lightly on that ground.
Correction: Dick Margulis' name was originally spelled incorrectly. Also, he was referring to the ailienation he feels of some communities. Not the ailiementation, which means support or nourishment.