Published in the May 13, 2015 edition of the Redstone Review.
What’s the fix for affordable housing in Lyons?
New special housing committee seeks solutions
by Amy Reinholds
Since my column last month, the Board of Trustees created a special housing committee, at the request of residents Justin Spencer, Craig Ferguson, Tom Delker, and Nate Mohatt. And just last week, the mayor also appointed Martin Soosloff, whom I worked with on the Housing Recovery Task Force in the 14 months after the flood, and Tom Lamz, whom I don’t know.
The four guys who I gathered together the day after the election that rejected an affordable housing neighborhood in Bohn Park now have an official town committee. Spencer is the chair and also gives a housing report at every Board of Trustees meeting. All housing committee meetings are open to the public: working meetings are every Thursday, 8:30-10 p.m. at the Lyons Valley Village community house, and regular meetings are the 2nd and 4th Mondays, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Lyons Town Hall Annex (behind the Barking Dog). The committee posts agendas and minutes at: http://www.townoflyons.com/component/content/article/158-yoocarousel/556-special-housing-committee.
- Liaisons to the special housing committee are Board of Trustees liaison Dawn Weller, town staff liaison Cody Humphrey (Lyons housing recovery coordinator), Greg Oetting from the Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC), Toby Russell from the Sustainable Futures Commission, and me from the Human Services and Aging Commission. Janaki Jane, who worked as a displaced resident advocate for Lyons Emergency Assistance Fund, is an assigned external resource.
- 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. 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 email@example.com).
- Humphrey has been discussing options with Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley since the 60-home proposal that would have included Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and Habitat for Humanity for-sale homes was voted down in the March special election.
- On May 4, Spencer 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 PCDC, but there were 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.
- At the housing committee working meetings, Ferguson reported that he has an offer on the Valley Bank property. Delker has taken the lead to explore mixed-use options with a local business owner that is interested in buying the parcel. There are two possible paths, which the committee plans to discuss with the town at the May 11 meeting: 1) working with a commercial purchaser who wants the Valley Bank building for a business and then subdividing and keeping costs low enough for Habitat for Humanity of St. Vrain Valley (HHSVV) to buy other part of the parcel or 2) a group forming a nonprofit land trust that would own the land for affordable housing, either building its own homes or working with HFHSVV.
- Ferguson also said he wanted to buy the former Longmont water treatment plant and looked at it with real estate agent Jonelle Tucker, but the City of Longmont sellers said they wanted to work directly with the town of Lyons instead. Watch for a future story in local papers about that site.
- At the working meetings, attendees, including members of the public, break into smaller groups to address issues: accessory dwelling units, manufactured housing parks, affordable rentals for multi/single family homes, infill, home ownership/Habitat for Humanity, tap fees, land trusts, and financing/grants/tax credits.
Keep following my columns in both Lyons papers for updates about what has and hasn’t been accomplished.
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.