PERSONAL HOMESTEAD AREA AGREEMENT
THIS PERSONAL HOMESTEAD AREA AGREEMENT is entered into this_______day of _______, 19_____, by and between Common Ground,Inc., (referred to below as the Community), and ______________and _________________, as joints tenants with right of survivorship, who are both members of Common Ground Community (both are referred to below as the Member).
The Community is a Virginia non-stock corporation organized for the benefit of its members, future generations, and ecologically and socially responsible uses of the land.[Insert legal description of all Community land and developments with reference to county deed book.]
The Member wishes use of approximately 2 acres, which is part of the land referred to above, along with ownership of the developments thereon, for use as a residential homestead in accordance with the By-laws of the Community.
In consideration of the sum of one dollar ($1.00), receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, the Community and the Member, for themselves and their respective heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns, agree as follows:
PART I – RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF A MEMBER
DEFINITIONS – DESCRIPTION – TERM – FEES
3. LAND AND DEVELOPMENTS
4. MINERAL RIGHTS
6. MONTHLY FEE
6.1 The Community shall bill, and the Member shall pay, to the Community a monthly fee, due and payable on the 15th day of each month. This fee shall be the Members proportional share of 1/12th of the Community’s annual budget as established at the Community’s Annual Meeting. The Community may also bill to the Member any expenses it has actually incurred on behalf of the PHA, including but not limited to taxes, utilities, or enforcement costs of this agreement. 6.2 Any fee not paid within 60 days of being due shall be subject to a 1% per month (12% per year) late charge. No additional notice is required of the Community to assess this late charge. 7. TAXES 7.1 Real Estate taxes on the land are included in the fee above. 7.2 All other taxes, including those on the development associated with this PHA, shall be billable to and paid by the Member. Should the Member not make any tax payment when due, the Community may make the tax payment and charge the Member by adding that amount to future fees. OWNERSHIP OF DEVELOPMENTS 8. STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP The Member shall own all developments made to or on this PHA by him/her, at his/her expense, on his/her behalf, or purchased by him/her, upon the conditions in this agreement. 8.1 The Member may sell, assign, transfer, mortgage, bequeath, or devise (referred to below as “transfer”) his or her rights in the developments provided all arrearages owed by the Owner to the Community have been paid in full. 8.2 If such buyer, assignee, transferee, mortgagee or heir is not a member of the Community, he or she shall be entitled only to the rights contained in PART II of this agreement. 9. RIGHT TO SEVER AND REMOVE Unless and until the development is transferred, the Member shall have the right to sever and remove any of his or her development provided the land is either returned to the same condition as it was before the developments were made, or, if this is not practical, to a condition satisfactory to the Board of Directors of the Community. Due to ecological considerations the Board may require the posting of a bond equal to one and one- half (1 1/2) times the cost of restoring the land, such cost and terms to be determined by the Board or by arbitration if the Member disagrees with the amount the Board sets. The residential unit must be maintained in a habitable condition by the Member unless it is removed entirely. ECOLOGICAL RESTRICTIONS 10. TREES AND VEGETATION The Community reserves to itself all timber with the following exceptions: 10.1 Members may cut trees which are located on their PHA for their own firewood, construction or other reasonable personal use. Members shall not cut natural growth timber for sale. Members shall use ecologically sound foresting practices, and mustprotect land, soil, and water resources, as defined below. Any variance of these restrictions must first be approved by the Community. A. Trees maintain privacy between houses and have aesthetic values and shall not be cut without considering the needs of and consulting with families on adjoining PHAs who may be affected by the cutting. Vegetation shall be maintained to encourage visual barriers between roads and houses. B. Where a view is desired, cutting the lower branches is preferred to cutting down the entire tree. C. Trees shall not be cut in areas either designated by the Community as erosion-prone areas or areas with slopes greater than 30% without prior written consent of the Community. Members shall use their best judgement in cutting down trees in areas not so designated. D. The Member may not create clearings without the prior approval of the Community. The clearing of land for buildings or gardens must be done in compliance with the concerns stated in this agreement and Community policies. 10.2 The Community may not cut timber on the PHA without written consent of the Member. Should permission to cut trees be granted, the Community shall follow ecologically- sound foresting practices, and must protect land, soil, and water resources, and must carry out such cutting with as little disruption to the Member as is reasonably possible. 11. DOMESTICATED ANIMALS The Member is required to consider the needs of neighboring members when choosing animals. No dogs shall be allowed to run free unless the owner is present on Community land. Members who wish to have animals which are not exclusively indoor house pets shall seek approval of the Community. Any commercial production of animals shall have prior approval of the Community. Should problems arise with animals that cannot be resolved privately, appeal may be made to the Community for decision. 12. NUMBER OF RESIDENTS PER PERSONAL HOMESTEAD AREA The maximum number of residents over the age of 18 on the PHA, shall not exceed 4 persons at any time without the prior approval of the Community. A resident shall be defined as a person who has lived on the PHA for a period of six consecutive months. 13. SEWAGE The agreed upon system for human waste is a composting toilet. Any other system must be both as ecologically sound as a composting toilet and approved by the Community. Grey water must be adequately filtered and dispersed according to state standards and any additional policies which may be established by the Community. 14. WATER 14.1 The Member agrees to implement any Community established water conservation programs so as to meet reasonable gallonage consumption or discharge limitations as needed. 14.2 No construction, including but not limited to roads, which would alter the flow of stormwater or other existing waterways shall be done without the prior approval of the Community. 14.3 The Member shall not allow refuse or waste to pollute any body of water. 15. HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES AND POLLUTION The protection of the environment is of paramount concern. Therefore, the pollution of earth, air, and water and the use and accumulation of hazardous substances shall either be eliminated or minimized whenever possible. The Member agrees to abide by Community established guidelines. 16. SOIL CONSERVATION The Member agrees to co-operate with any soil conservation plan requested by the Community. Overgrazing, overcutting and other practices which contribute to erosion are prohibited. 17. WILDLIFE The Member shall prevent the abuse of wildlife and natural habitat. 18. LAND USE PLANNING Land use plans, including but not limited to the placement and design of developments must be submitted to the Community for review. Should any objections be raised by any members of the Community, approval by consensus as defined in the By-laws of the Community will govern. 19. REFUSE AND RUBBISH The Member agrees to keep the PHA reasonably free and clear of rubbish, trash and litter. 19.1 Refuse is to be disposed of in a timely and proper manner. 19.2 Recyclables stored for future use shall be kept out of sight or in a presentable condition. USAGE 20. EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES Members are encouraged to participate in public education activities organized by the Community from time to time. These activities include but are not limited to experimentation, demonstrations, workshops, seminars, conferences, fieldtrips or children’s school experiences. The PHA shall be open for public education from time to time with specific arrangements to be made on mutually agreeable terms between the Community and the Member. 21. COTTAGE INDUSTRY The Community is restricted by its primary lease as to outside persons being employed on the land for income producing activities. Any income producing activity on the Member’s PHA shall be consistent with the purposes and restrictions in this agreement and shall not employ any non-residents of Common Ground Community without the prior consent of the Community. 22. NON-MEMBERS USE OF PHA OR DEVELOPMENTS 22.1 The Member shall not have any person who is not a member of the Community staying on the PHA for a period of longer than 3 months within any year without the prior consent of the Community. The Community may withdraw this consent at anytime. This limitation shall not apply to non-members who are part of the Members immediate family. Section 22.2 applies to family and non-family non- members alike. “Immediate family” shall be defined as a Member’s grandparents, parents, domestic partner (whether or not married), children, and brothers and sisters. 22.2 The Member takes full responsibility for the non-members use of the PHA as well as the non-members behavior generally, and shall make them aware of the spirit, intent and appropriate terms of this agreement and Community policies. 23. MAINTENANCE IN CONFORMANCE WITH COMMUNITY POLICY The Member shall at all times maintain the PHA and development(s) on it in a manner consistent with Community policies. If the Member fails to so maintain the PHA or development(s) after notice is given, the Community may do so, in which event the cost to the Community of such maintenance shall be payable by the Member on demand. 24. EASEMENT FOR PEDESTRIAN PASSAGE, UTILITIES, AND DRIVEWAYS The Community reserves the right, after careful negotiations with the Member in an attempt to arrive at mutual agreement, and provided these rights do not interfere with the Members quiet enjoyment, to: 24.1 Allow any other member of the Community or its visitors to use any path on the PHA; 24.2 Bury underground and maintain any utility pipes or wires through the PHA; 24.3 Build, use, and maintain any Community roads that run through the PHA. TERMINATION OF PHA AGREEMENT 25. TERMINATION BY MEMBER The Member has the right to terminate this agreement at any time and for any reason upon ninety (90) days written notice to the Community. Upon termination of this agreement, occupancy rights under this agreement are automatically terminated. 26. TERMINATION BY THE COMMUNITY The Community has the right to unilaterally terminate use rights under Part I of this agreement for any of the following reasons: 26.1 If the Member is absent for more than 1 year without the consent of the Community. 26.2 If the Member fails to pay any fee provided for in this agreement within 6 months, unless the Community has agreed to an extension. 26.3. If the Member fails to attend Membership meetings for 6 consecutive months, unless the Community has determined that reasonable extenuating circumstances prevented attendance. 26.4 Violation of any section of this agreement, including any significant violation of the ecological restrictions adopted by the Community. 26.5 Revocation of Membership in the Community, the procedure for which is found in the By-laws of the Community on file with the secretary of the Community. 26.6 If the Member fails to comply with any arbitration ruling under section 28 of this agreement. 26.7 Dissolution of Common Ground, Inc. Should such dissolution occur, all of the members as a group have a specific option listed in section 9 of the primary lease. 26.8 Except as listed below, the Community must give written notice of default to the Member at least 30 days prior to the termination of this agreement. This notice must include the way the Member may cure the default. If the Member does not cure the default within 30 days of the notice, the Community may then terminate use rights under Part I of this agreement. No notice and default cure time shall be required for termination under 26.5, 26.6, or 26.7. 27. DIVIDED HOUSEHOLD In the event a household divides and one or more of the Members who are a party to this agreement terminate their Community membership, then all rights and responsibilities of the terminated Member under this agreement shall pass to the remaining Member(s). This provision shall in no way effect any individual ownership interest the terminated Member may have in the development(s) on the PHA, but only terminates the non- members rights and responsibilities to manage the PHA and related development(s). PROCESS 28. ARBITRATION Any dispute or grievance between the parties to this agreement which cannot be resolved in normal interaction, shall be settled by binding arbitration using the following procedure: 28.1 Either party may, by written notice to the other, appoint one arbitrator. Within 14 days after such notification, the other party shall, by written notice to the former, appoint a second arbitrator. In default of such appointment the first arbitrator shall be the sole arbitrator. These first two arbitrators shall appoint a third arbitrator within 14 days of the appointment of the second arbitrator. It is recommended that the first two arbitrators should have Intentional Community experience. The third arbitrator must have experience in mediating conflict resolution. 28.2 The arbitrator(s) shall meet as soon as possible but no later than 14 days following the appointment of the last arbitrator and shall give each party an opportunity to fully present his or her case, evidence and witnesses, if any, in the presence of the other. As soon as possible but no later than 14 days after the hearing the arbitrators shall by consensus, or by majority vote if consensus cannot be reached, make a written report of its findings and decisions, including a personal statement by each arbitrator of his or her vote and the reasons for it. 28.3 If the decision directs either party to comply with the provisions of this PHA, it also shall specify a time within which such compliance is to be effected, and shall specifically allow the Member a reasonable default cure time. 28.4 The parties shall pay the arbitrators an amount to be determined by the arbitrators, but not to exceed $40.00 per day per arbitrator or $120 total per arbitrator, whichever is less, plus actual expenses. Dollar amounts are 1995 dollars adjusted annually by the CPIU. The arbitrators shall allocate these fees and expenses between the parties as the arbitrators see fit. 29. CHANGE OF COMMUNITY POLICY AND PHA AGREEMENTS 29.1 The Community may not change any policy applicable to this or any other PHA agreement without first giving all members at least 30-days notice of the meeting at which such change would be considered. 29.2 The Community may not change any member’s PHA agreement without first giving all members at least 30-days notice of the meeting at which such change would be considered. 30. INTERPRETATION Questions of interpretation of the provisions of this agreement or of the By-laws or policies of the Community shall be referred to either the Community or Board of Directors of the Community for resolution. This provision shall in no way limit the powers of the arbitrators as outlined in section 28. 31. INSPECTION The Community has the right to inspect the PHA and the Member’s use of it at any reasonable time and in any reasonable manner to assure compliance with this agreement. Five days notice to the Member of such inspection including the reasons for the inspection, is required. The Member is encouraged to be present at any such inspection. 32. FUTURE NEGOTIABILITY Any section to this agreement may be renegotiated, modified, added or deleted only by mutual consent of the parties. New sections may also be added only by mutual consent. 33. NOTICE Whenever this agreement shall require that either the Community or the Member give notice to the other, that notice shall be given in writing and either delivered in person or mailed to the last known address of those to be notified. Notice shall be deemed given on the date on which it is delivered or mailed. 34. CONSENT Unless otherwise provided, whenever this agreement requires the consent of either party, that consent must be given or refused within 30 days of the request if reasonably possible. If a well- informed consent requires a longer period, all reasonable steps must be taken to begin that process immediately and continue it promptly to completion. Recording Community consent in the minutes of a Community meeting shall be sufficient writing. 35. FAILURE TO ENFORCE Failure to enforce any provisions of this agreement does not preclude the Community from enforcing any other provision of this agreement or from enforcing any provision not previously enforced, at some future time, provided such enforcement will be uniform and notice is given. ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS 36. BINDING EFFECT Except as otherwise stated, all provisions of this agreement shall be binding upon the respective heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns of both the Community and the Member. 37. ENCUMBRANCE The Member may not cause any legal encumbrance, either voluntary or involuntary, to fall on the land covered by this agreement, such as a mechanics’ or materialmens’ lien. Neither the Member nor the Community may use the land as collateral. 38. SALE OF THE LAND The Community may not request that the School of Living sell all or any portion of Common Ground Community land without the consent of every member. 39. SEVERABILITY The various parts of this agreement shall be severable and, if any part be found unenforceable by arbitrators or a court, the remaining parts shall remain in effect. 40. LEGAL LIABILITY 40.1 The Member assumes all legal liability for injuries and accidents to himself or herself or third parties on the PHA during the life of this agreement and shall not hold the Community liable for such injuries or accidents. The Member has inspected, is familiar with, and accepts the PHA in its current condition. 40.2 The Member assumes sole responsibility for and liability to any and all persons and authorities related to the possession, occupancy and use of the PHA and developments on it. 41. ENTIRE AGREEMENT This written agreement represents the complete understanding between the Community and the Member about this PHA and the development(s) thereon and no other agreement exists outside this written agreement between the Community and the Member about this PHA and the development(s) thereon. 42. ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS Should any additional documents become necessary to implement or enforce this agreement, both the Community and the Member agree to produce, sign, and deliver such documents to the other without undue delay. 43. RIGHTS TO CIVIL LIBERTIES, PRIVACY AND QUIET ENJOYMENT The Community may not interfere with the personal lives, associations, expressions or actions of the Members, except insofar as they involve the terms and conditions of this agreement. The Community hereby expressly recognizes the rights of Members under this agreement to the quiet enjoyment of their PHA, to their right of privacy thereon, and to their basic civil liberties including but not limited to due process rights of notice and to a hearing on alleged violations. The Community solemnly undertakes not to abridge these rights under the guise of enforcement of the terms of this agreement, or by any other means. 44. MEMBERSHIP REQUIRED The Member shall maintain membership in good standing in Common Ground, Inc., its successors or assigns, as provided in the Articles and By-laws of that corporation. 45. USE OF COMMUNITY LAND All use of Community land must comply with rules established by the Community. 46. FURTHER RESTRICTIONS 46.1 This agreement is subject to a primary lease between School of Living and the Community, which is attached as Appendix I. 46.2 This agreement may also be restricted by zoning or other governmental regulations and any recorded easements. PART II RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF A NON-MEMBER OWNER (NMO) 47. RIGHTS OF A NMO The NMO has limited rights to rent, sell, or sever and remove the development(s), as expressly provided for in this agreement. The NMO does not have any other rights to use or occupy the development, the PHA, or other lands of the Community except as expressed in sections 50 and 51 below. 48. FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS – AUTOMATIC LIEN The following financial obligations owed to the Community by the NMO and not paid when due shall automatically accumulate as a lien against future rents or sale proceeds: 48.1 MONTHLY FEES (a) When the development(s) is occupied, the NMO shall pay to the Community the same monthly fee described in Part I section 6 of this agreement. (b) When the development(s) is unoccupied, the NMO shall pay to the Community 1/2 (one-half) of the monthly fee described in Part I section 6 of this agreement. (c) If the provisions in 48.1(a) or 48.1(b) creates hardship for the NMO, the Community, or the renter, the NMO and the Community may renegotiate a new monthly fee agreement. 48.2 GOVERNMENTAL ASSESSMENTS Real estate taxes or other governmental assessments charged against the development shall be paid by the Community and billed to the NMO. 48.3 MAINTENANCE It shall be the right and the responsibility of the NMO to do or cause to have done all the maintenance on and upkeep of the development. If the Community determines that the development has become unsafe, or if any repairs are required under applicable statutes and/or Community policies, the Community shall give the NMO notice. If the NMO does not make reasonable efforts to begin such repairs within 10 days of such notice, then the Community may make repairs and the costs, including labor, shall be billed by the Community to the NMO. 48.4 INSURANCE The NMO shall maintain insurance on the development(s) in an amount at least equal to that required of members. The Community shall have the right to require proof of insurance. Should the NMO not supply proof of insurance within 30 days of such a request the Community may purchase such insurance and the costs shall be billed by the Community to the NMO. 49. TRANSFER OF DEVELOPMENT 49.1 OBLIGATION TO SELL Any person not a member of the Community who becomes a development owner shall within 6 months of becoming a NMO discuss and come to an agreement with the Community as to the sale price, rental, and future use or non-use of the development. The NMO is obligated to sell to the Community or a member of the Community when the Community or a member commits to pay an agreed price or an appraised price as provided for in section 49.2. See section 50 below for a limited exception. 49.2 TRANSFER PRICE If there is a disagreement as to the fair price of a development a certified appraiser will be hired within 15 days to determine the price, and each party will pay half the cost of the appraisal. If either party disagrees with the single appraisal price then such party shall be permitted to hire within 15 days another certified appraiser whose appraisal shall be averaged with the original appraisal. If the parties cannot mutually agree on a single appraiser then each party shall hire a certified appraiser and the average of the two appraisals shall be the price. The appraised price shall not exceed the replacement costs of such development, less depreciation, obsolescence and damage as determined by the appraiser(s). 49.3 MEMBERSHIP SLOT AVAILABLE FOR BUYER OR HEIR Since use rights can only be acquired by a member of the Community, priority for provisional membership will be given to an heir or to a potential buyer of a development. If the Community is closed to new provisional members when one or more development(s) is or are for sale and no current member or provisional member is interested in buying an available development, the Community will add one additional household slot for a person or household that would otherwise qualify for provisional membership and that would purchase a development. 50. INHERITANCE – RIGHTS OF HEIRS 50.1 If a person becomes a NMO through inheritance from a Member, he or she shall have all the rights and obligations of any other NMO under this agreement, but with the following use rights: 50.2 If the heir so notifies the Community in writing, he or she shall have the right to live in the development for up to one year without being a member so long as he or she complies with the use terms of this agreement. 50.3 An heir must agree to abide by all applicable official agreements and policies of the Community. 50.4 Part I sections 10 through 21 and sections 23 through 24 of this agreement shall apply to an heir’s usage under this section. 50.5 Should the heir fail to comply with any part of section 50, the Community may terminate use rights after the following procedure: The Community must give written notice of default to the heir at least 30 days prior to termination. This notice must include the way the heir may cure the default. If the heir does not cure the default within 30 days of the notice, the Community may then terminate use rights under this section. 51. RENTING A DEVELOPMENT 51.1 TERMS In the event a development owned by a non-member is vacant, the development may be rented on terms agreeable both to the Community and the NMO. If one party gives notice proposing a renter the other will have 10-days to dis-approve. Such rentals shall be month-to-month unless all parties agree to a different term. Either the NMO or the Community can give termination notice to the renter provided notice is given to the other party subject to the exceptions expressed in 51.3. 51.2 RENTALS PAID TO COMMUNITY The renter will pay the development rent directly to the treasurer of the Community who shall deduct any lien amounts due the Community, along with the land use-fee as provided for in section 48.1(a). The treasurer shall then forward the remainder directly to the NMO within 5 working days of receiving payment. 51.3 WHEN COMMUNITY MAY RENT If any lien amounts as created in section 48 above are outstanding for 2 (two) years, the Community may rent the development without agreement of the NMO and apply the rent proceeds to the arrearages. The NMO shall have no right to terminate any rental agreement entered into by the Community under this section while arrearages are outstanding. 52. LIABILITY OF NMO The NMO shall have the same responsibility and liability as a Member owner to any and all persons and authorities related to the possession, occupancy and use of the development. 53. SEVERANCE AND REMOVAL Provided there are no liens on the development, the NMO shall have the same rights of severance and removal that a Member has under section 9. 54. INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE The following sections in Part I of this agreement are hereby incorporated by reference into Part II of this agreement. 1. DEFINITIONS 5. TERM 6.2 LATE CHARGE 25. TERMINATION BY MEMBER 28. ARBITRATION 30. INTERPRETATION 31. INSPECTION 33. NOTICE 34. CONSENT 35. FAILURE TO ENFORCE 36. BINDING EFFECT 39. SEVERABILITY 41. ENTIRE AGREEMENT 42. ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Community and the Member, having mutually drafted this Agreement with the benefit of counsel, intending to be legally bound, set their hands and seals this day of________, 19 . ________________________________________________________(seal) MEMBER, _________________________________________________________(seal) MEMBER, _________________________________________________________(seal) COMMUNITY, COMMON GROUND, INC., , President _________________________________________________________(seal) COMMUNITY, COMMON GROUND, INC., , Secretary STATE OF VIRGINIA, AT LARGE CITY/COUNTY________________________, TO WIT: The foregoing instrument was acknowledged before me in my jurisdiction this _________ day of ____________, 19____ , by . My commission expires:____________________________ ________________________________________________ Notary Public STATE OF VIRGINIA, AT LARGE CITY/COUNTY________________________, TO WIT: The foregoing instrument was acknowledged before me in my jurisdiction this _________ day of ____________, 19____ , by and , President and Secretary, respectively, of Common Ground, Inc., a Virginia corporation. My commission expires:____________________________ _________________________________________________ Notary Public / Note: The entire set of Common Ground Community legal documents includes its articles of incorporation, bylaws, minutes of meetings (where policy and other agreements are found), the primary lease with School of Living, and this PHA agreement. Questions about any of these can be addressed to: Herb_Goldstein@mcimail.com.