Published in the May 28, 2015 edition of the Lyons Recorder.
What’s the future for affordable housing in Lyons?
Tap fee discount request for proposed Habitat homes
by Amy Reinholds
By the first week of June, the Lyons Board of Trustees is expected to hold a workshop with the special housing committee to discuss tap fee discounts for proposed Habitat for Humanity sites in Lyons.
The Utilities and Engineering Board (UEB) and representatives from Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley (HFHSVV) also will be invited to the workshop.
The housing committee discussed at its May 21 working meeting what they would present to the board at the workshop. Housing committee member Tom Delker said he would like to see the discounted fees to apply to the next 10 homes built in Lyons by HFHSVV. If that discount is approved by the Board of Trustees, it would help keep the budget down for HFHSVV at two sites: a portion of the Valley Bank property that Craig Ferguson has a contract to buy and proposes to subdivide and sell lots for approximately 6 Habitat homes, and a possible duplex that Cody Humphrey, Lyons housing recovery coordinator, and HFHSVV executive director Dave Emerson have been looking into on town-owned property east of the post office.
When housing committee chair Justin Spencer requested the workshop during his report at last week’s Board of Trustees, meeting, trustees said they wouldn’t want to commit to waived or discounted tap fees on the Valley Bank site if market-rate homes were built there, so they want a guarantee of permanent affordability.
Housing committee member Craig Ferguson is under contract on the 0.76-acre Valley Bank property and is planning to subdivide the existing property into a commercial/business property and a set of residential lots to be sold directly to HFHSVV. The commercial/business property will encompass the existing bank building and the land towards the highway. HFHSVV would build a series of owner-occupied duplexes and triplexes on the remainder of the existing lot, towards Park Street. Ferguson plans to close in mid-June. He said at the housing committee working meeting last week that he expected not to involve a land trust with this project, as he had originally discussed, so the current proposal is to sell the residential lots directly to HFHSVV after subdivision. Delker has said that a local business owner is interested in purchasing the current Valley Bank building after subdivision.
Also, since the Bohn Park affordable housing vote failed, Humphrey and Emerson have been discussing options for HFHSVV in Lyons. The town-owned land east of the post office at Railroad Avenue and 3rd Avenue is currently zoned as R2, which would allow a duplex, and parking that is currently on the site could be replaced by on-street parking.
At the special housing committee working meeting last week, five members of the committee were present: Spencer, Delker, Ferguson, Martin Soosloff, and Wendy Miller. Spencer, Delker, and board of trustees liaison Dawn Weller worked on a draft of materials for the upcoming workshop with the board of trustees. The materials they prepared includes the following information about the Valley Bank proposal:
- Project team: Ferguson is the developer. HFHSVV is the builder.
- Site concept: The concert is to rezone the residential area R3 and construct 6-8 units (to be finalized by a site plan by CivilArts, a Longmont-basedny that HFHSVV has worked with before). The project team will need to complete a pre-application meeting with town staff before June 18, covering more of the details of the site concept. The project would go through the town process with the Planning and Community Development Commission.
- Budget estimate for permits, taps, and other fees: HFHSVV would pay $50,000 per finished lot (for 6-8 lots total). After HFHSVV acquires the lots, they could afford to pay up to $15,000 per lot for all taps, fees, water shares, and permits. However, the full estimated cost of fees and permits for the project is approximately $43,000. Delker and Spencer arrived at this estimate based on the following fees, which they plan to provide to the board in a summary table at the workshop: Boulder County Open Space & Recycling Tax, Parks Fund use tax and General Fund use tax, Park tax, fees for plan review and building and electric permits (SAFEbuilt), Fair Contribution fee (St. Vrain Valley Schools), water meter, water tap, sewer tap, Community Investment fee (electric tap), water shares, construction meter fee, and the Xcel Energy gas fee.
- The draft states that HFHSVV requests that the Town of Lyons provide a waiver and/or discount on these fees, as allowed under current town codes to enable them to build affordable housing at this site, targeted at flood-displaced residents that meet HFHSVV’s preference policy and an affordability policy as determined by the Town.
- Preference policy: Delker got a statement from HFHSVV that the group would use the following preference policy, the same it was going to use for the proposed Bohn Park development: 1.) Aggressively target, promote and do outreach to those families who were living in Lyons and were impacted by the floods. Regardless of where they are living now (for example, outside HFHSVV’s jurisdiction) they can be considered. 2.) Do a first round of selection that limits applications to those who can demonstrate they lived in Lyons and had their housing impacted by the flood. All other requirements of our program would be in place. So, someone who lived in Lyons during the flood is not automatically selected. They still need to meet all our established requirements (ability to repay a mortgage, willingness to partner with sweat equity, demonstrate housing need). 3.) After the first round, if we do not have enough qualified families for all the homes, then we would do another round of selection. We would still aggressively promote this in Lyons and hold our orientations in Lyons, but we would not be limited to someone who lived in Lyons at the time of the flood.
- Permanent affordability: The housing committee will present two examples of covenants that Habitat for Humanity has used in nearby municipalities – HFHSVV has an example of covenant when the City of Longmont provides material considerations, which is less restrictive than a permanently affordable housing covenant used by the Habitat for Humanity Flatirons chapter in the City of Boulder. The housing committee and the project team expect to recommend a covenant attached to the deed of each lot like the one used in the City of Boulder. They said that HFHSVV is willing to work with the Town of Lyons to devise an acceptable affordability covenant similar to these two examples currently in use on Habitat for Humanity Projects in the area.
- Project benefits: With approximately 6-8 new homes, as many as 18-25 people could move back to town. Real estate taxes, sales taxes, and utility charges would accrue to the Town as a result of this project.
Spencer, Ferguson, Delker, and Nate Mohatt originally asked the board to create the housing committee to find affordable housing solutions after the proposal that would have included Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and Habitat for Humanity for-sale homes was voted down. They were appointed in April, and since then the mayor has appointed Soosloff, Miller, and Tom Lamz. All housing committee meetings are open to the public: regular meetings are the 2nd and 4th Mondays, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Lyons Town Hall Annex, behind the Barking Dog, and working meetings are every Thursday, 8:30-10 p.m. at the Lyons Valley Village community house. The committee posts agendas and minutes at: http://www.townoflyons.com/component/content/article/158-yoocarousel/556-special-housing-committee.
If anyone is interested in applying to the housing committee, complete the application at http://www.townoflyons.com/images/stories/Advisory_Board_Application_2.pdf (email it to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Keep following this weekly column for updates about what has and has not been accomplished. For background of how this group started, see http://www.lyonsrecorder.com/index.php/lyons-chatter/6026-what-s-the-future-for-affordable-housing-in-lyons?showall=1&limitstart
Amy Reinholds served on the Lyons Housing Recovery Task Force from December 2013 through its end in February 2015. She is currently a member of the Lyons Human Services and Aging Commission and serves as a liaison to the special housing committee. She has lived in Lyons for 11 years and in the surrounding Lyons area since 1995.