OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- No swing sets. No noisy kids. Someone to mow the lawn and shovel the snow.
That's the good life as far as some people are concerned, and they're willing to pay for it in exclusive adults-only communities that have been branched out north of the Sun Belt.
"When the kids are out of the nest, it's the perfect concept," said Larry Rosso, a businessman who moved into Logan Mill at the Ridges last May, the first adults-only community in Nebraska.
Logan Mill, which opened in the spring of 2000 on the western fringe of Omaha, isn't a retirement community. It's a housing development designed for "active adults," who are usually 50-somethings with no children left at home and enough savings to afford an upscale house.
Plenty of baby boomers match the description.
"The average age of the buyer used to be early 60s, but that age is starting to decrease," said Phil Petersen, president of Phoenix-based Logan Mill Communities.
The so-called "no-kids communities" are often built on or near golf clubs where residents can have easy access to the course. At Logan Mill, the Shadow Ridge Country Club is just across the street.
The communities, which generally prohibit residents under age 19, have been popular for decades in Florida, Arizona and California, where retirees flock to warmer climates.
Children -- usually grandchildren -- are always welcome visitors, they just can't be permanent residents. Under community rules, they can visit for no more than 90 days at a time. Residents can be as young as 19.
It's not that anybody dislikes children, they just want a more peaceful atmosphere than a neighborhood full of families.
"It's nice and quiet -- no basketball hoops," said Jeanne Schinstock, a 50-year-old nurse who moved to Logan Mill in October.
A homeowners association oversees any conflicts and considers extenuating circumstances if children stay too long, but residents know the no-kids rule when they apply, so the issue hasn't been a problem, Petersen said.
"It's made clear to everybody who comes in to visit us," he said. "Everyone's aware of it."
The no-kids clause raises a few questions about housing discrimination, but can be legal.
"You can exclude children under certain circumstances," said Gary Fischer, director of the Fair Housing Center of Nebraska, a non-profit organization that investigates housing discrimination.
According to federal law, a housing facility or community can set an age requirement if each household has a resident who is 62 or older. A community also meets the standard if 80 percent of the homes have a resident 55 or older. Logan Mill qualifies under the latter provision.
Del Webb Corp. of Phoenix tapped into the active adult market in the Midwest in 1998 with the addition of one of its popular Sun City communities in Huntley, Ill., about 45 miles northwest of Chicago.
Sun City Huntley has grown to about 1,300 homes and is planned to be 6,000 when it's completed.
Pulte Homes Inc. merged with Del Webb last year to form the nation's largest homebuilder. Pulte has built more than 20 active adult communities in the last 10 years and is adding another adults-only community in Fredericksburg, Md., outside Washington.
"We're targeting people who are aging in place -- people who want to stay in the place they are," said Valerie Dolenga, a Pulte spokeswoman. "They work and they're close to home. They want to be in a big city, not 1,200 miles away from their grandkids."
Petersen, an Omaha native, thought the idea may work well in his ever-expanding hometown.
His company is building another community, Logan Mill at the Polo Fields, in Louisville, Ky., and is eyeing property in Nashville, Tenn., and the Kansas City, Mo., area.
In the Omaha community, housing prices range from $189,900 to $312,900. Custom changes may push the price higher, but people seem willing to pay.
In the 18 months since Logan Mill at the Ridges opened, 45 of its 131 lots have been sold. Petersen said the ages of the new homeowners do not put the community in jeopardy of violating federal age requirements.
Rosso, 45, and his wife, Penny, 39, had seen similar communities in Palm Springs, Calif., where their family has a vacation home. When they heard the idea was coming to Omaha, and the community would be built near the Shadow Ridge Country Club, they didn't take long to sign.
"People when they heard I was moving out here they laughed. Some of my friends said, 'Why are you moving to that retirement community? You're only in your 40s. You're 20 years ahead of schedule,"' Rosso said. "That's the major misconception."
For Rosso, it was about convenience. His two teen-age daughters from a previous marriage live with their mother in Omaha. He could move to Logan Mill and not lose visitation, while living in a spacious, three-bedroom home that doesn't carry much of a maintenance burden since lawn care and snow removal are included.
When he has a little spare time he also can zip to the golf course in his golf cart, which he purchased not long after his home.
"I just like the maintenance-free -- no mowing and no shoveling," he said. "That way when I'm at the golf course I don't have to feel guilty about not mowing because it's getting taken care of."
And the proximity is helping his game. His handicap is down to a 14.
End advance for Thursday, March 7, and thereafter
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