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Published in the May 7, 2015 edition of the Lyons Recorder

What’s the future for affordable housing in Lyons?

Could Habitat for Humanity homes be part of a mixed use development at Valley Bank?

by Amy Reinholds

On May 4, the chair of the special housing committee reported to the Board of Trustees about a potential mixed-use development at the Valley Bank with a potential commercial owner with interest running a business from the Valley Bank building and splitting off a portion of the site along Park Street for Habitat for Humanity affordable for-sale homes. The project has not yet been brought to the Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC), housing committee chair Justin Spencer told the trustees, but he asked them if they had any generic concerns with that site being used for mixed-use development.

There were no concerns from the board about mixed use development on that 0.76 acre parcel. There are various issues to be resolved, such as number of homes, density, steps for Planned Unit Development zoning, and needed parking for homes and the business. “The parking piece is possibly a barrier,” Spencer said.

“The sooner any regulatory concerns are raised, the better,” said Trustee Barney Dreistadt.

Trustee Dawn Weller, board liaison to the housing committee, said it would be great if the parcel could provide some affordable housing without the town losing the commercial tax revenue. The board has directed all previous housing groups and consultants, including the new committee, that housing plans proposals should not convert commercial parcels to residential, although mixed use is acceptable.

Cody Humphrey, Lyons housing recovery coordinator, has been discussing options with Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley since a 60-home proposal that would have included Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and Habitat for Humanity for-sale homes was voted down in a March special election.

At the housing committee working meeting on April 30, Craig Ferguson, a member of the committee, reported that he currently has an offer on the Valley Bank property. Housing committee member Tom Delker has taken the lead to explore mixed-use options with a local business owner that is also interested in buying the parcel. Ferguson did not say whether he would sell to the interested business owner, determine not to the buy the parcel, or decide to partner with the interested business owner. Ferguson did say that there were also other parties interested in buying the Valley Bank site.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Mayor John O’Brien appointed Tom Lamz and Martin Sooslof to join original members Spencer, Delker, Ferguson, and Nate Mohatt. The report from the housing committee is a standing item on the Board of Trustees agenda since the board created the committee on April 20.

The second working meeting of the special housing committee last Thursday, April 30, at the Lyons Valley Village community house was attended by 13 people, including the 4 members, board liaison Weller, Greg Oetting from Planning and Community Development Commission, Toby Russell from Sustainable Futures Commission, Tamara Vega-Hadadd from Economic Development Commission, and me from Human Services and Aging Commission. Doug Stahl from the Parks and Recreation also attended as a member of the public, as did Trustee Lavern Johnson, and two people who were planning to complete applications to apply.

The April 30 working sessions divided up into subgroups to discuss feasibility of affordable housing in 4 areas:

  • accessory dwelling units
  • manufactured housing parks
  • affordable rentals for multi/single family homes
  • infill, home ownership/Habitat for Humanity

It was also discussed who would take leads the following cross-cutting issues to research and discuss at future meetings:

  • tap fees – Justin Spencer
  • land trust – Nate Mohatt
  • financing, grants, tax credits – Tom Delker

The following areas do not yet have leads assigned:

  • lot-size restrictions, changing density
  • site issues, annexation, zoning
  • targeting housing for flood-displaced residents/preference policy
  • options for maintaining affordability

The housing committee has established the following meeting times, all open to the public:

  • 2nd and 4th Mondays, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Lyons Town Hall Annex (behind Barking Dog)
  • working sessions: every Thursday, 8:30-10 p.m. at Lyons Valley Village Community House

All information, including agendas and minutes will be posted at: http://www.townoflyons.com/component/content/article/158-yoocarousel/556-special-housing-committee.

The committee still needs liaisons from the Engineering and Utilities board and possibly other commissions, and is looking for at least one currently displaced resident to fill a seat on the committee. Janaki Jane, who worked as a displaced resident advocate for Lyons Emergency Assistance Fund, is an assigned external resource. 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 danthony@townoflyons.com).

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. She has lived in Lyons for 11 years and in the surrounding Lyons area since 1995.