Decades-old zoning laws make it easy for developers to build suburban sprawl, and more and more Americans will live in such developments instead of healthy edge towns unless something changes, community builder Charles E. Fraser told attendees at the Community Associations Institute 45th National Conference in Arlington, Va., Oct. 29-31. Fraser called on builders to put new ideas about community association development to work and make the coming century the "springtime of good thinking about community in America."
It is difficult to raise capital and get zoning for new towns, Fraser said, so developers continue to build residential development separated from schools, churches, parks, retail and new enterprise employers.
Fraser, the founding chief executive officer of Sea Pines Plantation, Hilton Head Island, N.C., told more than 1,000 community association homeowners, managers, builders, service providers and public officials that too few developers and their lawyers have been attending CAI events, and that they continue to use inadequate governing documents based on 70-year-old ideas.
Echoing themes that resonated throughout the conference, Fraser called on the Urban Land Institute, the National Association of Home Builders and the American Bar Association to throw out the old model and write new forms of covenants, conditions restrictions and for condominium, cooperative and homeowner associations. Healthy and vibrant community associations can be designed through new, higher standards for governance, financial management, education, resident polling, professionalism and a dedication to building community spirit, Fraser said.
Building community, not just homes, is good for business, added Robert M. Daimond, an attorney with Hazel & Thomas P.C., Falls Church, Va., in a conference educational session for builders. "Developers must build the civic and social infrastructure that community associations need to succeed," Diamond said. "Some of my client builders sell 50 percent of homes in new developments through word-of-mouth recommendations from homeowners."
Fraser also emphasized the need for CAI to band together with other organizations to amend county zoning codes, most of which encourage suburban sprawl, and push for funding for greenbelt town legislation in states and counties.
The Community Associations Institute is a nonprofit association created in 1973 to educate and represent the nation's 205,000 community associations—condominium associations, homeowner associations and cooperatives. CAI members include homeowners, associations and related professionals and service providers.
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