Author Topic: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.  (Read 15407 times)

Offline NWPilgrim

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #30 on: September 28, 2013, 08:15:04 PM »
How does it work if a person decides to move out of one of these leased communities and they have done a lot of land and building development?  It isn't clear to me who owns and can sell what.

For example, say for $200/month (and the buy-in fee) I lease a one acre plot that has minimal infrastructure at the time I buy it, maybe a road, electrical, and water at the street.  There is no building so eventually I build my own cabin with basement, deck, etc.  I decide I want to live off grid so I drill a well, install a pump house, run water supply from well house to house.  I also use the raw land I leased to build up a nice fruit and nut orchard, or a tree farm. 

10 years later something changes and I decide I need to move elsewhere (job, family, climate, whatever).  What happens to all the improvements I have made.  I can't take them with me.  I can't sell them since they are embedded into the land owned by the community corporation.  Is the corporation going to pay me for the improvements that I liked, but they never asked for or approved? OR am I going to have to walk away from a substantial investment of time and labor?

I keep hearing that leasing i no different than paying property taxes.  Not true in the least; that is trite and an insult to intelligence.  When I take out a mortgage and pay property taxes, I can make improvements on that land and buildings.  I can then turn around and sell it for not just what I bought it for but for any additional amount according to value of improvements, appreciation, and inflation (or the reverse, if values drop).

A lease arrangement for residents seems to encourage temporary improvements: modular or mobile house than could be relocated, annual crops, etc.  It would seem to discourage any permanent improvements in infrastructure, land use, or buildings.  Is there a part of the lease agreement that addresses this and how does the "fair market compensation" work out?  I can see why the founder and the corporation would want to retain ownership and control of the land, but I am missing how that is attractive to prospective residents who seriously want to live on and with the land and be productive.

Offline Ian-FW

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #31 on: September 28, 2013, 08:52:55 PM »
I would consider myself a libertarian, and I like most libertarians, and libertarians are among the last people I would want to surround myself with. Dunno why it is, but we tend to make pretty poor neighbors, in my experience. My general reaction to the idea of libertarian intentional communities is "run for your life!", and I don't see a reason to think otherwise with this setup or Jack's PermaEthos plan. Maybe my view is skewed by abnormal personal experience, but I'll take apathetic plain folk as neighbors long before dedicated libertarians or survivalists.

Offline Doc K

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #32 on: September 28, 2013, 11:11:24 PM »
How does it work if a person decides to move out of one of these leased communities and they have done a lot of land and building development?  It isn't clear to me who owns and can sell what.

10 years later something changes and I decide I need to move elsewhere (job, family, climate, whatever).  What happens to all the improvements I have made.  I can't take them with me.  I can't sell them since they are embedded into the land owned by the community corporation.  Is the corporation going to pay me for the improvements that I liked, but they never asked for or approved? OR am I going to have to walk away from a substantial investment of time and labor?

I keep hearing that leasing i no different than paying property taxes.  Not true in the least; that is trite and an insult to intelligence.  When I take out a mortgage and pay property taxes, I can make improvements on that land and buildings.  I can then turn around and sell it for not just what I bought it for but for any additional amount according to value of improvements, appreciation, and inflation (or the reverse, if values drop).

A lease arrangement for residents seems to encourage temporary improvements: modular or mobile house than could be relocated, annual crops, etc.  It would seem to discourage any permanent improvements in infrastructure, land use, or buildings.  Is there a part of the lease agreement that addresses this and how does the "fair market compensation" work out?  I can see why the founder and the corporation would want to retain ownership and control of the land, but I am missing how that is attractive to prospective residents who seriously want to live on and with the land and be productive.

The corporation owns the land. You can improve it or not as you choose. Big, permanent house or small, mobile place... your choice. If you should ever choose to sell, then you can just walk away (ie break your lease, with no penalty more than likely), or you can sell it for whatever the market allows... meaning, if you can find someone, and the corporation will help with this, to purchase your property, considering all your improvements, for what you think it is worth, then you can sell it for that. It is similar, but not identical, to how property is bought and sold. You pay more for a better, more improved place. If the market is down, it is a buyers market; if the market is up, it is a sellers market.

I have personally seen a number of so-so properties sit on the market for, literally, years. I have also heard of great properties never being listed - sold by word of mouth - in days. It all depends on a lot of factors. The one big factor for us, to be honest, is that banks may not finance a loan for this type of purchase. So a person leaving the community will either have to find a cash buyer or self-finance, which may not be a bad option considering your initial investment.

I never said that a lease is identical to property taxes. I said, or implied strongly, that you still have to pay something (property taxes) forever. There is no, honest, "free and clear" point. You always have to pay "the man". In this case, let the man (the corporation) be someone you personally know and trust, and have a more direct influence on, than a county, state, or federal govt.

My big reason for running the lease, as is Jack's, from what I can tell, is three fold. First, communes and purchase/ownership intentional communities rarely last more than a few years. This system seems to solve a lot of those issues. Second, while you can do what you want (to an extent) on your leased land, the rest is managed by the corporation. As Xavier Hawk said, then people won't screw it up. Third, to allow a small, but steady, return of investment. I've run the numbers, a lot. This is not a get rich scheme. It is a solid investment that can provide perpetual returns, with risk. I'm not doing this to become independently wealthy.

I have been, for years, trying to figure out how I can have a farm and my family and a good chunk of my friends all in one place, in or near a quality community where I feel safe raising my kid. I have searched for ways to do this for over 10 years. I really think this is the best chance at making my vision a reality.

Personally, and I understand that life gets in the way, I plan for this to be my forever home. I don't mind that it may be a bit harder to leave. I would hope this produces longevity in the community.

Doc K


Offline Doc K

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #33 on: September 28, 2013, 11:24:20 PM »
I would consider myself a libertarian, and I like most libertarians, and libertarians are among the last people I would want to surround myself with. Dunno why it is, but we tend to make pretty poor neighbors, in my experience. My general reaction to the idea of libertarian intentional communities is "run for your life!", and I don't see a reason to think otherwise with this setup or Jack's PermaEthos plan. Maybe my view is skewed by abnormal personal experience, but I'll take apathetic plain folk as neighbors long before dedicated libertarians or survivalists.

I can appreciate that to a point. But I have a few issues. If you are a libertarian (or follow any -ism for that matter), you are likely frustrated that all your fellow countrymen and women are apathetic and don't see the world like you do, to varying degrees. I would love if everyone saw the world a whole closer to how I do, not identical - that would be boring! It's the apathetic who are around us that make the need for survivalists and libertarians. If not, it would just be a way of life and there would be no labels.

Second, many of my closest friends are libertarian-ish, even if they don't vote for the libertarian nominee. I want them living near me, hence the community. I never said this is a libertarian or survivalist community, not by any means. I said that I am very liberty minded, and the community would be based on that.

Doc K

Offline AlanB

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #34 on: September 29, 2013, 06:31:21 AM »
The discussion makes me think of a quote from a friend of mine that we use about a sport we do.

"Individualists of the world UNITE"

Anyway, one other thought, maybe out in left field, but I think there are several out there, have you thought of looking at some of the "failed" time share properties in the area? 

I believe the structure and legality is all already in place to do basically what you are saying, I believe there were some out in the Dover area that were marketed towards hunters and fishermen that had some of the groundwork set, but never really got going. 

I wonder if you could go into (purchase) one of those, and benefit from their initial efforts and their loss would be your gain.  Kind of like picking up a car restoration after someone has started and bought a bunch of parts then lost interest, time and capital.

Some random thoughts.

Offline Skunkeye

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #35 on: September 29, 2013, 11:10:37 AM »
I would consider myself a libertarian, and I like most libertarians, and libertarians are among the last people I would want to surround myself with. Dunno why it is, but we tend to make pretty poor neighbors, in my experience.

I wouldn't say libertarians make poor neighbors.  That hasn't been my experience.  But places like this and PermaEthos (ugh - Doc K, I hope you come up with a better name for your project!) will have problems, I think, when it comes to "herding cats", and getting everyone on the same page regarding common areas and ground rules.  I think a lot of people are pseudo-libertarians, who like the concepts in theory, but when faced with the actual consequences and real-world application of libertarian ideals in their community, will find it's "too much freedom".  Lots of people who say they're libertarian really just mean they want more freedom, not so much that they want you to have more freedom.  When their neighbor builds an ugly shed right next to the property line, or has some noisy geese, all of a sudden, they want more rules - for him.  So the trick will be to attract people who really are "live and let live" libertarian types, who truly understand that freedom can be messy sometimes.

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #36 on: September 29, 2013, 01:05:56 PM »
MODERATOR NOTE:
Deleted a personal argument between The Professor and OutWestTX.

Offline Doc K

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #37 on: September 29, 2013, 02:37:00 PM »
I wouldn't say libertarians make poor neighbors.  That hasn't been my experience.  But places like this and PermaEthos (ugh - Doc K, I hope you come up with a better name for your project!) will have problems, I think, when it comes to "herding cats", and getting everyone on the same page regarding common areas and ground rules.  I think a lot of people are pseudo-libertarians, who like the concepts in theory, but when faced with the actual consequences and real-world application of libertarian ideals in their community, will find it's "too much freedom".  Lots of people who say they're libertarian really just mean they want more freedom, not so much that they want you to have more freedom.  When their neighbor builds an ugly shed right next to the property line, or has some noisy geese, all of a sudden, they want more rules - for him.  So the trick will be to attract people who really are "live and let live" libertarian types, who truly understand that freedom can be messy sometimes.

This is the benefit of a solid 10 foot buffer between lots... Ideally planted thickly. This is why the bylaws will be very, very clear as well.

Doc K

Online FreeLancer

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #38 on: September 29, 2013, 03:19:14 PM »
Lots of people who say they're libertarian really just mean they want more freedom, not so much that they want you to have more freedom.  When their neighbor builds an ugly shed right next to the property line, or has some noisy geese, all of a sudden, they want more rules - for him.  So the trick will be to attract people who really are "live and let live" libertarian types, who truly understand that freedom can be messy sometimes.

Agreed!  I'm interested in watching from a distance to see how these libertarian communes pan out.  I'd like them to work, but it seems like it wouldn't take much interpersonal strife to bring them down.

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #39 on: September 29, 2013, 04:35:45 PM »
I'm following this in case you end up in the Eastern Tennessee area.

Offline konaexpress

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #40 on: September 29, 2013, 05:01:42 PM »
Like I said, love the idea of it but how do you make things work? People can be stupid at times...

John

Offline Samuel Fairlane

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #41 on: September 29, 2013, 06:29:19 PM »
I've often thought that only a community based on common faith could or would work. The biggest issue I have with neighbors is drugs, and those who think it's ok to let dogs and cats roam free doing all kinds of damage. I love my little homestead, but my local community seams to be descending in to bedlam. I went to the closest gas station just a little while away and looked like a scene from the walking dead, there are so many meth junkies walking around. How productive or enjoyable can a community be if the people are wasting away like they are in a concentration camp?

Offline Doc K

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #42 on: September 30, 2013, 12:08:02 AM »
A couple of things...

I cannot speak for Jack's project, but my project is not going to be billed as a Libertarian community. It certainly is not going to be marketed as a survivalist community. We will be very liberty-minded in how the bylaws are written and enforced. I would consider myself a Libertarian. However, my target is for people who want a sustainable, resilient, connected community where we can raise our families in (relative) peace and safety. My goal is to surround myself with as many common-sense Permaculturists as I can. Many of these will be Libertarian-ish and modern, common-sense survivalist/homesteader types.

Drugs... Stray cats... Whatever else... This will all be very clear in the bylaws. We follow the law of the land. Drugs are illegal. If a person is choosing to kill themselves like that, while I hate it as a physician and a fellow human being, and while I may try to help that person if they are a part of my community, as long as they are paying their monthly fee, not hurting the community, and not hurting other people, than it is their life. The same premise will go for animals. This will be an agricultural community. That will be very clear.

Why do we not worry if a new subdivision will be able to "make things work"? This is not a commune. This is a community which is going to try and attract like-minded people. By its nature and design, there will be many opportunities for the people to get to know each other and work together, but as long as members are paying their monthly fee, the community will be built with or without their involvement. It will be built faster and it will be a whole lot more enjoyable if everyone participates and gets along, but that is not going to happen. Every community has its own dynamics. I think of it like going to church. Everyone that attends does so for a common belief. Each has their own specific views and opinions, some are more outspoken about them than others. Some people attend every week and are involved in every committee. Some only show up on Easter and Christmas Eve. Some people get along, some are cranky. Some leave the church. New people come. This is a community. This idea, where we know everyone, we know who the grumpy person is, or the one who drinks a little too much, the one to ask about fixing our cars... This is what we don't have anymore. This is what I would like to build around me. It is not utopia. It is real life. But it is a life connected to a community.

Doc K

Offline Skunkeye

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #43 on: September 30, 2013, 01:42:24 PM »
Why do we not worry if a new subdivision will be able to "make things work"?

For starters, a "traditional" subdivision is a well-proven model.  We already know it "works" (I put that in quotes because from my point of view, modern tract housing doesn't work well at all, but by the standards most people seem to accept, normal housing subdivisions almost always work).  From a business standpoint, it's a much simpler model:  you buy the land, put in the infrastructure, then sell the houses or lots.  Then you move on.  There's not a lot of ongoing management required.  Most don't have many common areas (some have a community center or swimming pool or the like, but nothing on the scale of common areas that these permaculture communities are talking about).  The property is all sold to private entities, not managed in a lease arrangement, so there's no ongoing involvement there.  If I buy a house in a traditional development, and the company that built the development goes bankrupt, it doesn't affect me much.  I've got my house and land, and my only considerations are the bank (if I have a loan) and the taxing entities the property is affected by.

With a lease-the-land deal, the management corporation would have to be rock-solid for lots of people to even consider it, because there's the risk that they'll mismanage their funds or otherwise screw up.  If the landowner fails to pay his taxes, the leaseholders don't have much recourse.  The county or whatever can seize the property and kick everyone off.  Or someone else buys the property and decides to change the rules.

It's essentially a new concept that hasn't been tried much before, so naturally people are going to question its feasibility.  Say what you want about traditional housing developments, it's a tried-and-true model that folks are familiar with.  Not to say it isn't deeply flawed, but those flaws are well-known and understood.

Another major difference is that most subdivisions aren't concerned with trying to attract like-minded folks with common goals.  So you get a very diverse mix of people.  What you're attempting to do is to attract a narrower cross-section of people, many of whom are likely to be very individualistic and not the typical model of "go along to get along" types that most suburban housing developments seem to attract.  It's a much different group dynamic, and I think it's valid to question if it's viable long-term.  I can see it going either way.  Could end up a sustainable community of independent thinking, self-sufficient families working together for the good of the community, the way small towns and villages were in previous centuries.  Or, packing a bunch of libertarian survivalists into one-acre lots could be a powder keg that blows itself apart a year into it.  Like I said, it hasn't really been done before, so nobody knows how it will turn out.  Everything is purely theoretical at this point.

Lastly, nobody questions whether a regular subdivision will work or not because nobody really cares.  If they build a bunch of houses in a cornfield somewhere, I don't give a crap if they sell them all or lose their shirts trying.  I think most of us here would love to see something like your project or Jack's actually work out and prove the concept.  So we're a little more invested in the idea, and more inclined to think about it.  And thinking about it raises questions.  My only goal, since I'm not going to be joining one of these efforts, is to raise concerns so they can be thought through and dealt with.  It's much easier to solve problems in the planning stage than to discover them after you've leased half your lots.

Offline Doc K

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #44 on: September 30, 2013, 02:48:55 PM »
Skunkeye,

I appreciate the comments even if I don't agree with everything people say. It is making me think and question or confirm my thoughts.

Bring it on! :)

Doc K

Offline Doc K

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #45 on: October 01, 2013, 10:02:51 AM »
For starters, a "traditional" subdivision is a well-proven model.  We already know it "works" (I put that in quotes because from my point of view, modern tract housing doesn't work well at all, but by the standards most people seem to accept, normal housing subdivisions almost always work). 

My point pertaining to "not worrying if a subdivision is going to work" was specifically about the human conflict issues that people keep bringing up, not anything else... definitely not its legal structure - it is comparing apples to oranges.

As far as people are concerned, I keep saying that this is not a commune. The major conflicts in communes arise from (among many other issues) living on top of each other, trying to make group decisions, and collective work. Those issues will not be here.

Another major difference is that most subdivisions aren't concerned with trying to attract like-minded folks with common goals.  So you get a very diverse mix of people.  What you're attempting to do is to attract a narrower cross-section of people, many of whom are likely to be very individualistic and not the typical model of "go along to get along" types that most suburban housing developments seem to attract.  It's a much different group dynamic, and I think it's valid to question if it's viable long-term.  I can see it going either way.  Could end up a sustainable community of independent thinking, self-sufficient families working together for the good of the community, the way small towns and villages were in previous centuries.  Or, packing a bunch of libertarian survivalists into one-acre lots could be a powder keg that blows itself apart a year into it.  Like I said, it hasn't really been done before, so nobody knows how it will turn out.  Everything is purely theoretical at this point.

I also do not see this as much of an issue. How many of you, who claim to be individualistic and libertarian have problems with your neighbors? I mean, everyone has a few issues here and there, but most of the time, it is because “that other person” has their head in the clouds or sand… and they really do. They are the yuppie or the “fashionista” who doesn’t have a clue about real life. That is not who will want to move to this community. I guess what I am asking is if the whole community was mostly filled with people JUST LIKE YOU, why would there be problems so large that the whole community would blow up? Unless you are a selfish, unreasonable jerk (and I am not saying you are), then why is this such a concern? Do you really think being a modern survivalist is a good idea and everyone should do it? Or do you really think everyone should be more liberty-minded? I certainly do. Then why, when we could build a community that does just this thing, do people think it would fail due to the character of the people involved?

Offline Doc K

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #46 on: October 01, 2013, 10:08:10 AM »
One issue I am working on right now is finding out about code issues for alternative housing. I have contacted two cob building instructors in Tennessee, one of whom trained under Ionto Evans. There is no way this community will be able to fly under the radar, so all building will have to be above board. I had a brief email conversation with one of the instructors, and she said that there have been cob buildings approved in TN. I didn't think to ask which county it was, and so I am waiting to hear back.

I will share what I learn.

If anyone has any good information on cob homes that have been approved by code officials, especially in TN, I would love to hear it.

Thanks!
Doc K

Offline Ian-FW

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #47 on: October 01, 2013, 11:38:47 AM »
Quote
I mean, everyone has a few issues here and there, but most of the time, it is because “that other person” has their head in the clouds or sand… and they really do. They are the yuppie or the “fashionista” who doesn’t have a clue about real life. That is not who will want to move to this community.  I guess what I am asking is if the whole community was mostly filled with people JUST LIKE YOU, why would there be problems so large that the whole community would blow up?

Most of the people out there who are dead-set on starting a homestead, already have. You'll snag a few who would be doing it anyway and happen to see your project at the right time, but most of the people that would be moving to a project like this are people who are currently living in proper civilization and are motivated to move out to your place by all the cool stuff it promises to become. A lot of those people don't realize how much hard work is involved in building something like this from the ground up, and are not going to be comfortable with it. They'll create social problems because they have gambled a huge amount of time and money and other potential opportunities on building a new life in your community. As Jack has said several time, people under stress don't make rational decisions - and building an unorthodox house in a rural place with a family (who may or may not be fully on board) and maintaining some sort of income stream is extremely stressful. Everything will take twice as long and cost twice as much as anyone plans on, and people who don't realize that going in will be in a real bind when money runs low, the house isn't livable, and the family is complaining about this whole idea.

Lots of people are great folks and in ideal circumstances the best neighbors you could ask for, but they have unrealistic expectations and have built many layers of plans on those faulty foundations. Those folks are a lot less neighborly when their plans come crashing down around them. Not something I would hold against them personally, but those aren't people I want to live around.

The community I have had the great fortune to find myself in has worked out very well because nobody there expected any help from anyone else, and the whole thing was unplanned. People who couldn't handle the work and the stresses simply left, and the people who stuck it through are now a pretty solid community. We help each other out when necessary, but there is no community property or common area or shared plan or any formal structure that can be enforced. I think it also helps that the average property is 40 acres (with lots of unoccupied parcels between the actual residents) so we have a lot of space between people. We basically have no unintentional interactions - I can only see one other building from my home, and only the top of its roof. Lots of little things that can cause disputes on small parcels (smelly animals, construction noise, etc) are simply not problems when the closest person is a half mile away.

I would also point out, FWIW, that nobody in my little community has successfully build a house in less than 5 years. The ones that are finished now are absolutely gorgeous (we have a strawbale house, a rough-cut lumber house, and several conventional stick framed abodes), but virtually all of them were done either by retired people with pension-type income or by having one member of the family live elsewhere with a fulltime job while another did the building work.

Offline Skunkeye

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Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
« Reply #48 on: October 01, 2013, 03:28:29 PM »
I guess what I am asking is if the whole community was mostly filled with people JUST LIKE YOU, why would there be problems so large that the whole community would blow up? Unless you are a selfish, unreasonable jerk (and I am not saying you are), then why is this such a concern? Do you really think being a modern survivalist is a good idea and everyone should do it? Or do you really think everyone should be more liberty-minded? I certainly do. Then why, when we could build a community that does just this thing, do people think it would fail due to the character of the people involved?

You're right, if that's how it plays out.  But, again, this is an untried concept, so you really don't know exactly who will be attracted to it once you start leasing lots.  It almost certainly won't be 100% people like me, or people like you.  As Ian points out, the ideal people for this sort of project probably are already doing this stuff on their own property, or have deal-breaker reasons to not be doing it, like family obligations.  You'll certainly find some good people, but it is an unconventional idea which may scare off some people who might otherwise be perfect for it.  People (even free-thinking, liberty-minded folk) find comfort in the familiar and are naturally distrustful of unfamiliar situations.  Even when the familiar doesn't really work for them.

There are going to be a few shitheads, because there always are, in any group of humans.  The trick is to structure it in such a way that a few bad apples can't spoil the whole barrel, and to attract far more non-shitheads, so the inevitable few who sneak in are outnumbered.  The group of us here on these forums seems like a pretty good group, as most of Jack's listeners seem to be.  But I think we all know that if you widen the circle just a little bit, the "modern survival" community has some really odd ducks circling around the fringe.  The kind of guys who have ruined the words "survivalist" and "prepper" to the point that you can't really use them around "normal" people, lest they think you're the Unabomber.  I think the moderators here on this forum do an amazing job of insulating those of us who are (or can at least appear) sane from the real nutjobs, but they're out there.

Ian brings up another great point about people getting in over their heads, too.  Ironically, the more organized and professional your project appears, the more likely it is to attract people who aren't prepared for the amount of work it will entail.  Managing expectations will be a huge part of your job when it comes time to start leasing lots to people. 

Now that I think about it, you'll definitely want to avoid using the words "survival" or "prepper" when you're talking to anyone in any regulatory capacity, trying to get things approved.  I doubt there are many county officials that would want a "survivalist compound" (that's what they'll hear, anyway) in their backyard, with visions of "Doomsday Preppers" dancing in their head.  Use "sustainable community" instead...   ;)