Published in the June 4, 2015 edition of the Lyons Recorder.
What’s the future for affordable housing in Lyons?
June 3 meeting scheduled to discuss discounted tap fees for Habitat for Humanity
by Amy Reinholds
Since my column last week, a meeting that the special housing committee requested with the Lyons Board of Trustees, the chair of the Utilities and Engineering Board, and representatives from Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley was scheduled for Wednesday, June 3, to discuss tap fee discounts for proposed Habitat for Humanity sites in Lyons.
Special housing committee chair Justin Spencer will be out of town for work, but member Tom Delker, serving as vice-chair, will be at the meeting. Delker confirmed that Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley director Dave Emerson would be able to attend the meeting, scheduled from 5:30-7:30 at Town Hall.
At his report to the Board of Trustees at their regular meeting on June 1, Spencer thanked the board for setting up the special meeting/workshop. Trustee Lavern Johnson asked Spencer how the proposal for reduced tap fees should be justified to Lyons taxpayers. “I would focus on the affordability,” he said. He asked the board to consider this kind of discount for tap fees for the next 10 Habitat for Humanity homes in Lyons – as in exchange for providing permanent affordable housing with a preference policy for people who lost their homes in the 2013 flood – instead of just focusing on the project being discussed at the Valley Bank site.
Utilities and Engineering Board chair Aaron Caplan said he would be at the June 3 meeting, and he suggested that the board consider whether there should be something related to tap fees for affordable housing in the town code.
The proposal in the materials for the June 3 meeting ask the trustees to consider a resolution that would charge a flat fee of $7,000 per unit in lieu of standard fees associated with water and sewer taps, community investment fee (electric tap) and fees associated with purchasing water shares, all which were expected to come to an approximate total of more than $34,000 per unit if no discounts were offered.
If a discount were to be approved by the Board of Trustees, it would help keep the budget down for Habitat for Humanity at two sites the nonprofit is currently considering: 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 for Humanity homes, and a possible duplex that Cody Humphrey, Lyons housing recovery coordinator, and Emerson have been looking into on town-owned property east of the post office.
For more details on what the housing committee planned to discuss with the trustees about tap fees at the planned meeting, see my column from last week at http://www.lyonsrecorder.com/index.php/lyons-chatter/6026-what-s-the-future-for-affordable-housing-in-lyons?showall=1&limitstart, where you also can read background about how this special housing committee started. With my weekly columns, I intend to keep the public up to date about what has and hasn’t be accomplished for affordable homes for people who lost their homes in the flood, after a majority of Lyons voters rejected a plan for approximately 60 affordable homes in a new neighborhood on approximately 6 acres of Bohn Park. So far, after that rejected vote, we’re looking at a possibility of approximately 8 new affordable homes in Lyons, if the two proposals being discussed come to fruition. We’ll only need 52 more homes after that, if our community wants to try to provide 60 affordable homes. But even that number for Bohn Park was just a portion of the approximately 100 families who were still displaced from their Lyons homes.
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.
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.