Local resident helps plan green co-housing village
Region – After seven years of planning, a Marlborough resident is preparing to leave the city for a new way of life. Kathy Journeay, who describes Marlborough as a "fabulous" community, is one of 68 homeowners moving to "Sawyer Hill EcoVillage," located in Berlin.
Journeay sits on the Board of Directors for the village and explained that it is a co-housing development dedicated to a green living experience. During the development phase of the village, the founders have created a community that combines two types of living experiences: the eco-village and co-housing.
The result is a collaborative housing experience where residents choose to buy houses in the neighborhood and at the same time buy into a way of life. Residents own a private house and share several common buildings and facilities, including a main house for community meals and entertaining, a playground, and a swimming pool.
"It is a grassroots development, … an intentional neighborhood," Journeay said.
The houses in Sawyer Hill are built close together and are generally smaller than traditional houses to promote community and use less space, leaving more green space. In addition, residents have the use of a bonus room in the main house, which is about 5,000 square feet and features a great room and large kitchen for entertaining.
Journeay, who is purchasing a two-bedroom, 1,100-squarefoot house, explained that one of the benefits that appealed to her was the concept of having community dinners a couple of nights a week.
"It is important to get connections," she said. "When you eat dinner with your neighbors a couple of nights a week, you get to know them."
Admitting that the housing concept was initially controversial in Berlin, she explained that because the village includes affordable housing, it became appealing to the town.
As an initial investor and a Marlborough resident, Journeay said that the group first began to look for land in Marlborough. After looking at the local real estate options, she realized that the group would not find a 68-acre parcel of land on a dead-end street in the city.
"I like Marlborough," she said. "It is a dynamic place with a richness of culture. It would have been a more urban development, but it would be a fabulous location for coliving."
The village features two 34-house developments on 12 of the 68 acres. By keeping the moderately sized developments clustered together, the founders were able to reduce the construction footprint.
Neighborhood members are encouraged to participate in sharing community buildings and resources such as tools and lawnmowers.
With an emphasis on green living, the neighborhood maintains conservation areas as well as organic community gardens. Through countless small measures, like having a common parking area to reduce the amount of asphalt or a shared home office to reduce fuel consumption, the village promotes the principles of green living.
With the certificate of occupancy expected Thursday Oct. 2, Journeay is ready to see what started as an idea seven years ago become a reality.
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