Published in the April 13, 2016, edition of the Redstone Review.
COMMENTARY: What’s the fix for affordable housing in Lyons?
2nd & Park Habitat proposal still alive: Don’t miss upcoming meetings!
By Amy Reinholds
LYONS – The advantage of a monthly paper is even when plans change quickly from week-to-week, I have time to give a summary when things settle down.
2nd & Park proposal still alive
Despite posts on Facebook, the proposal for 6 Habitat for Humanity homes in Lyons is still alive. At the April 4 Board of Trustees meeting, Town Clerk Deb Anthony read a statement about an intention to schedule the final plat and subdivision improvement agreement for 2nd Avenue and Park for a future Board of Trustees meeting, the same meeting where the Planned Unit Development (PUD) is considered. She also said that Habitat for Humanity and the applicant (land owner Craig Ferguson) have arrived at a different structure for the application.
The trustees did not have to make a decision on this information, so it was not discussed at Monday’s meeting. Like all zoning processes, it probably can’t be discussed by the Board of Trustees until the public hearings for the final plat, subdivision, and PUD zoning are scheduled at a future meeting.
I asked Dave Emerson, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley, some questions to better understand how the federal disaster recovery funding deadlines would work. Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley can be reimbursed with disaster recovery funds for a total of $100,000 per unit, which is about half of the true costs, for each of the 6 proposed units. By the end of January 2017, they can be reimbursed for whatever amount is spent, even if not the full $100,000 per unit. For example, if the 6 lots were purchased at $50,000 each by the end of January 2017, they could be reimbursed for those costs, and if framing was complete on only two units by that time, Habitat could also be reimbursed for those costs. Then the remaining costs would rely on donations from individuals, churches, and businesses, which is already part of how Habitat for Humanity raises funds. It just might take longer to complete. Habitat for Humanity is always looking for more funding sources.
Shape future Eastern Corridor plans April 14 and April 28
What do you think the Eastern Corridor in the planning area east of town should look like when property owners outside of town limits annex in? Right now, the only properties in that area that are in town limits had annexed a few years ago: Grace Design, which designs and manufactures recording studio equipment, and the Lyons Farmette, which provides community supported agriculture shares and a wedding venue.
Continue to provide feedback on the questions posed in the March Primary Planning Area master plan meeting here: www.townoflyons.com/460/Submit-Public-Input. Then attend two upcoming meetings: an April 14 Alternatives Workshop where you can review and provide input on three concept alternatives reflecting market-supported land uses and desired outcomes, and economic feasibility and impact; and an April 28 Implementation Open House where you can review and provide input on a preferred concept, based on stakeholder objectives, previous community input, economic feasibility/impact, required actions and resources, and consequences and benefits. Both are from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Rogers Hall (4th and High Street). You don’t have to live within town limits to participate. If you cannot attend, submit your ideas, concerns, and questions at the website or contact Matthew Manley, Flood Recovery Planner, mmanley @townoflyons.com, 303-823-6622, ext. 49.
For example, I think there were some great ideas for affordable housing and a community center with a safe pedestrian path connecting back to central Lyons that were part of the National Disaster Resilience Competition. I like that location for a community center (and maybe also a visitor’s center) that could serve as a safe haven in other disasters and even include micro-grid technology for resiliency. I’d like to see housing that is affordable for a diversity of income levels, including permanently affordable rentals and home ownership, and a diversity of architectural types, including live-work housing for artists (check out www.coloradocreativeindustries.org/communities/space-create). Also, the application mentioned possibilities to pursue manufactured housing/mobile homes where residents could own both the land and the homes.
The application for funding, which was not awarded to Colorado, is still a good resource for what might be possible with other funding resources: www.townoflyons.com/documentcenter/view/428.
The town of Lyons lost about 70 flood-destroyed homes to the federal buyout programs (including one mobile home park) and a second mobile home park property that is no longer used as a mobile home park. Some neighbors have told me that they don’t want the town of Lyons to grow, but we’ve got to face the fact that the town has shrunk after the September 2013 flood. Shouldn’t we make wise plans to allow Lyons to get back to the size it used to be? What does the Chamber of Commerce think? Everyone in the community should participate.
Outgoing trustees to vote on affordable housing strategy April 18
I’m glad that the voters elected trustees who have the institutional knowledge to understand affordable housing issues, experienced from serving on the Board of Trustees and the Special Housing Committee in the years since the flood. The new Board of Trustees will take their seats in the second part of the April 18 Board of Trustees meeting.
Before the current board completes its portion of the meeting that night, the trustees are planning to pass a resolution with a goal of affordable housing stock in Lyons and a menu of possible housing policies and incentives that future boards can use to accomplish that goal. It is based on input and research from the Special Housing Committee.
The Special Housing Committee has been sunset, but I want to thank all who volunteered during the past year. Thanks to recent and past committee members Justin Spencer (chair), Wendy Miller, Susanne Ducker, Martin Soosloff, Mike Carroll, Tom Lamz, Nate Mohatt, Craig Ferguson, and Tom Delker. Thanks to liaisons Dawn Weller (Board Liaison), Cody Humphrey (Town Staff Liaison), and Janaki Jane (LEAF displaced residents advocate). And thanks to others who provided information and research: Toby Russell (encouragement), Gregg Oetting and Michelle Allen (Planning and Community Development Commission), Aaron Caplan (Utilities and Engineering Board), Damema Mann (National Research Center), Andrew Rumbach (Department of Planning & Design, the University of Colorado Denver), and the former Lyons Housing Recovery Task Force.
Keep following my columns in both Lyons papers for news about any accomplishments to increase affordable housing stock in Lyons. If you have any questions, comments or complaints about this column, contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.
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 served as a liaison to the special housing committee during the past year. She has lived in Lyons for 12 years and in the surrounding Lyons area since 1995.