Resource gathering can be a grind. It can also be unrealistic. Seriously, how many trees do you have to cut down to make a house? And how fast are those trees replenished in the world?
To answer the question more directly;
1a) I enjoyed the system that required me to establish the resource and then it passively generated the resource.
Example: Wood. I would have to harvest 100 wood by chopping down trees. Once I received the need quantity, I could then build a lumber yard (or some other physical node that now creates the resource). Once completed, the new lumbar yard node can be used to gather X wood. This should not be automatic, it should be log in and clicky clicky. Reward the loyal daily player and reduce the resource mule generating.
1b) Yes, but there has to be some level of grind. If you use the above node idea, it does not prevent the player who wants to grind chopping trees all day. The challenge there is preventing a few players from actually dominating a resource. If the respawn rate of a tree is too low, then it allows for the griefing of a resource. Granted, that could be a nice strategy and add to the realism. People would then choose to build where there are actual resources needed.
Only 1 node resource could be created by an account. This would also translate to only 1 house/home/structure per account.
It should not be easy or quick to build a structure