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Breaking Ground: Ceremony for Shepherd Village marks milestone

By Staff | Jun 9, 2017

Chronicle photo by Vanessa McGuigan Founding members of Shepherd Village, along with project workers and members of Town Council throw the first shovel of dirt at the 19-acre cohousing community.

The dream of several soon-to-be Shepherdstown residents desiring to live in an intentional community of socially supportive neighbors, came one step closer to reality with the ceremonial ground breaking of the Shepherd Village on Wednesday.

Many of the property owners, members of town council, and various people involved with the project were present to hear remarks and pose for a photo opportunity, even though clearing of the area actually began in late May.

When completed in 2018, the “pioneers” who have poured countless hours into planning this labor of love will have created 30 private homes in duplexes and triplexes, along with a 4000 square-foot Common House, plus a community garden, walking paths, clustered parking and other amenities, adding to the uniqueness of Shepherdstown and the for the symbiotic benefit of all who will live there.

Philip Baker-Shenk, one of the founders of Shepherd Village made opening remarks.

“This is a big day. It’s somewhat like waking up after a long, complex dream that was both exhilarating and exhausting. And here, now, we’re waking up to the realization that this dream is happening-it’s reality,” Baker-Shenk said.

Baker-Shenk said that as of Monday, all 30 units were purchased, which is unusual at the start of a project, and went on to thank the many people who are participating in the project including the architects, project builder, surveyors, project manager, and members of Town Council, the planning committees and home owners.

Mayor Jim Auxer welcomed the future residents of Shepherdstown to the “greatest town in America.” Auxer only half-jokingly appealed to the residents to volunteer for future projects in town to help Shepherdstown move forward.

“We appreciate so much that you’re doing this,” Auxer said. “It only adds to the ‘eclectic-ness’ of Shepherdstown. It’s wonderful. We also appreciate how you’ve worked with the town to achieve what we see here today, and the rest of Shepherd Village.”

Ellen Smith, one of the owners said, “This day means the culmination of a lot of hard work by many people. It’s very exciting. It also means that another 50-80 people are going to be moving to Shepherdstown, buying stuff, dining, participating in in the community. Most of the people who are owners in this project don’t already live in Shepherdstown.”

In addition to the 30 cohousing units, there will be a separate 20 lots, or 10 duplexes sold in a community that is currently called “Sage Place,” which will be available for purchase this fall. It will be it’s own entity, with a separate HOA from Shepherd Village.

“This is the first of the town’s PUD (Planned Urban Development), an new ordinance-this is a test-case for that,” said Than Hitt. “This is a good starting point for some of the things I’m looking at, which is keeping some green space, and that’s part of the design here.”

The town has zoned the cohousing area as a “55-plus” purview, with 80 percent of the households having at least one member who is 55 years of age or older.

“The draw for members of this project (Shepherd Village) is each other,” said Mary O’Hara, one of the owners. “Yeah, we are going to be in this great town in a wonderful space with beautiful surroundings, but it’s the people, when all is said and done-the community that draws us together.”

Construction on the homes in the 19-acre community is expected to start later this summer.

“The whole idea is to be empowered and shaping your reality alongside your neighbors. We’re very-much looking forward to the move in 2018,” Baker-Shenk said.