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Published in the April 21, 2016, edition of the Lyons Recorder. 

COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

Outgoing trustees pass affordable housing resolution

by Amy Reinholds

Before the former board of trustees ended their term on April 18, they unanimously approved a resolution that specifies a goal of 10% affordable housing stock in Lyons with a list of possible housing policies and incentives that future boards can use to accomplish that goal.

Trustee Dawn Weller, who served as Board of Trustees liaison to the Lyons Special Housing Committee in the past year, made the motion to approve; and Trustee Dan Greenberg, who worked with the Lyons Housing Recovery Task Force the year after the flood, seconded the motion.

Section 1 of the resolution states “In order to promote the general health, safety, and welfare of the Town’s residents, it is in the Town’s best interest to set a goal for the number of housing units that are affordable to residents earning eighty percent or less of the Boulder County [area median income] AMI at approximately ten percent of the total housing stock within the Town limits, with a majority of affordable units meeting the needs of residents earning sixty percent or less of the Boulder County AMI, with an emphasis on permanently affordable units.”

Section 2 lists possible policy measures that future trustees can consider, including (1) zoning changes that allow for denser development where it otherwise would not be permitted; (2) annexation conditions that favor affordable housing; (3) conditions on further market-rate, single family home construction; (4) deed restrictions, covenant controls and land leases; and (5) use of Lyons Urban Renewal Authority funds for projects combining commercial and residential development and placing as instruments of affordable housing.

Section 3 lists incentives that future trustees can use to encourage affordable housing, including (1) land swaps; (2) reduced tap and permitting fees; (3) property tax exemptions; and (4) density bonuses.

The resolution also states that the Board of Trustees authorizes Town staff to examine opportunities and propose means for adopting and implementing affordable housing measures, subject to the advice of the Town Attorney, and to seek grants or other appropriate means to assist in the efforts. Special Housing Committee chair Justin Spencer asked the trustees if they would consider added language to enable funding a full-time staff position assigned to affordable housing. The trustees changed the language to “seek grants or other appropriate means” to allow for that path to assist in creating affordable housing.

The resolution was drafted by Trustee, now Mayor, Connie Sulivan and Trustee Greenberg, and based on input and research from the Special Housing Committee, Lyons Housing Recovery Coordinator Cody Humphrey, and town attorney Kathie Guckenberger. The trustees thanked Humphrey, who is leaving his position a half a year before his contract end to take another job, and the volunteer members of the Special Housing Committee, which ended this month with the trustees term.

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 outgoing Trustee 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.


Earlier on April 18, the outgoing Board of Trustees attended a workshop with updates about the master plan process for the Eastern Corridor Primary Planning Area. The purpose of the Lyons Primary Planning Area Master Plan is to understand conditions that will influence investment, as well as to identify and illustrate the type and location of desired public and private improvements within its boundaries. The Lyons Primary Planning Area is made up parcels along the fringe but outside of the current town boundaries, in Boulder County.

Before properties in the Primary Planning Area can be considered for incorporation/annexation into the Town of Lyons, elected and appointed town officials need to be provided with details about feasible and desired uses for land in the area, in accordance with the Town of Lyons 2010 Comprehensive Plan, the Lyons-Boulder County Intergovernmental Agreement, the Lyons Recovery Action Plan, and Lyons Municipal Code.

The Eastern Corridor is the first portion of the Primary Planning Area that consultants from Ricker|Cunningham, a practice of Real Estate Economists, and planners and engineers from Kimley-Horn are completing for the town. Matt Manley, Lyons Flood Recovery Planner, is coordinating the master plan for the Lyons Primary Planning Area.

Consultants from Ricker|Cunningham presented the trustees with the following recommendations and findings so far about the Eastern Corridor, based on input from residents and business owners inside and outside town, and two workshops:

  • The existing Intergovernmental Agreement with Boulder County and physical conditions limit how much development can be accommodated and where.
  • Available parcels for commercial retail development are limited to and within the Eastern Corridor. The retail market potential is primarily within the destination and entertainment segments.
  • Opportunities for affordable housing include a range of housing product types.
  • Existing Town regulations and standards (if applied) will maintain the area’s current character.
  • Existing municipal code will not require amendment prior to considering future annexation requests.
  • Build-out of undeveloped parcels only within current town boundaries will result in a budgetary deficit. Based on 72 acres within the town limits and densities for their current zoning, the balance of revenue generation from residential and non-residential would be projected to be $119,228, but total service costs to the town would be projected to be $172,075 per year, resulting in a deficit of $52,846 or 31% per year. See the State of the Town slide available in the presentation at www.townoflyons.com/441/Lyons-Primary-Planning-Area.
  • The required vote for annexation of five acres or more should be revisited in light of desired outcomes.
  • The Intergovernmental Agreement with Boulder County should be amended to reflect findings of the Primary Planning Area Master Plan.
  • Future annexations to Lyons may benefit from retroactive inclusion in the urban renewal area.

Even though you can read my columns, I encourage you to attend upcoming meetings related to affordable housing options to understand it for yourself: A final workshop about the Eastern Corridor Primary Planing Area is Thursday, April 28 from 5:30-7 p.m. at Rogers Hall. If you can’t go, at least give your input here: www.townoflyons.com/441/Lyons-Primary-Planning-Area. Also, a future meeting of the new Board of Trustees (typically first and third Mondays of each month, 7 p.m. at Town Hall) might include an agenda item for a restructured application for subdivision and PUD zoning for 2nd and Park, where 6 Habitat for Humanity Homes were proposed. All town meetings are open to the public and posted on the calendar at www.townoflyons.com/calendar.aspx.

I intend to continue writing columns in both Lyons papers about any accomplishments to increase affordable housing stock in Lyons. For background and history, you can read previous columns at https://lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please 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 in the past year. She has lived in Lyons since 2003 and in the surrounding Lyons area since 1995.