Living in a Planned Unit Development

  By definition, a PUD (Planned Unit Development) is a community governed by an HOA (Home Owner Association), which offer features or amenities that are shared by the a mandatory membership of owners. These developments can include any number of compatible land uses – such as commercial, industrial, and professional business in addition to residential. PUDs will generally have a centralized lifestyle focus, such as equestrian facilities, a golf course or country club membership.

The History of PUDs

Britain led the movement toward PUDs in the 1950’s, using industry as an economic base and then developing surrounding residential communities. In the U.S. the reverse was true, where industry was courted and secured only after the residential sectors were constructed and sold. After WWII, communities began to crop up near large cities, with homes built cheaply in assembly-line fashion, so that qualified veterans could purchase them at a monthly rate less than renting. One such development was called Levittown, and in 1949, within 3 hours, fourteen hundred of its houses had been purchased.

The first PUD zoning on record was in Prince Georges County, Maryland, and it allowed a complete neighborhood plan comprised of a large land tract, shopping, parks, playgrounds, future sites for schools, off-street parking and several types of dwelling uses such as condos, townhomes and single-family residences. Followed closely by Alexandria, Virginia and San Francisco, planned unit developments would continue to make large barren areas of land into mini-cities; allowing neighborhoods to share common amenities that none of them could afford on their own.

The Pros of PUD Living

Convenient access to community pools, Jacuzzis, gyms, tennis courts, restaurants can be a great incentive for PUD living. Maintenance is paid by HOA dues, and the use of these common area improvements are generally for the exclusive use of its members and their guests. The areas are often gated – providing a sense of belonging, as well as a modicum of security, to those living within its boundaries.

One positive is that there isn’t the intense focus on an individual homeowner that can happen in a single-HOA small complex situation. Another is that your total monthly dues may be less than those in a regular subdivision; essentially with the larger number of members in its HOA, you get more services and value for less money with a PUD.

The Cons of Living in a PUD

Uniformity is virtually guaranteed and this assures the neighborhood must maintain a certain standard of appearance. Though the homeowner owns their home and lot (or condo space), they do lose the right to use their property as they choose to. Sometimes the Rules and Regulations, not to be confused with the CC&R’s or By-Laws, can become almost intrusive into the member’s lifestyle.
Some PUD communities are laid out to maximize every inch of space, and the lot sizes can at times seem cramped or less private; by nature, they have a higher unit density than normal neighborhood developments. Though more “closely-knit” neighborhoods may seem safer, traffic may become a hazard for children, pets or joggers.

Generally within a PUD there will be layers of HOAs; this may mean you will have more than one assessment as well as multiple sets of rules. Some PUDs have several individual neighborhoods, each with their own CC&R’s, By-Laws and Rules; there will be a “master plan” HOA as well. Dealing with varied regulations, two or more boards of directors, and varied levels of fee structures can be daunting.

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