Published in the October 6, 2016, edition of the Lyons Recorder.
NOTE: At the Nov. 7 Board of Trustees meeting, the “Discussion/Direction – Land Purchase Agreement/Annexation Plan of Longmont Water Plant Property” is on the agenda again.
What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?
Trustees discuss purchasing Longmont Water Treatment Plant
by Amy Reinholds
The Town of Lyons will pursue a possibility with the City of Longmont to purchase the former Longmont water treatment land east of town as a lease purchase agreement, according to direction from the Lyons Board of Trustees at their Monday, Oct. 3 meeting. A lease purchase agreement could allow the Town of Lyons to own the entire property (both north and south sides of Hwy 66) but pay the City of Longmont for the 4 tracts that make up the total property, over a period of 4 to 5 years.
Mayor Connie Sullivan and Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen met with Longmont staff recently to look at parcels, considering using one portion for a new public works building. They reported that Longmont staff offered that Lyons could pursue the lease purchase as a way to manage funds that become available for different purposes, for example for Lyons public works, or maybe later for a developer who wants to build affordable housing. Otherwise, Lyons would have to come up with the money to purchase the entire property up front and then ask for reimbursement from federal funding sources later.
Simonsen also reported that because they are considering part of the land for a permanent public works location, they are required by FEMA to get two appraisals for the land that the town is considering purchasing from Longmont. The first proposal came out as $795,000 for the complete land, as is (not annexed into Town of Lyons, no Lyons utilities, and requiring demolition of old water treatment structures). Trustees and Simonsen discussed how the City of Longmont might be surprised at the appraised value, because a 2009 appraisal (which was considered flawed because it assumed the land was already annexed and ready to connect to town utilities) valued the land at $1.2 million.
The City of Longmont will put in its legal resources to draft an agreement for Lyons trustees, staff, and attorney to review. Although there are still many unknowns, it’s possible that the first tract could be available for public works next spring, Simonsen told the trustees. After annexed, sewer and water could be brought out to that area.
“This is the first step we’ve been trying to figure out for a long time,” Mayor Sullivan said. “There’s been very creative work on part of town staff to come up with a solution.”
They estimated that each year the Town of Lyons would be obligated to pay for one of the four tracts, about $200,000 each. Lyons will have funds for the first tract for the public works building, and might have a year to annex and maybe subdivide and resell other portions to interested parties, such as an affordable housing developer, or businesses.
At the end of 2015, the Town of Lyons submitted a proposal to the National Disaster Resilience Competition, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that included affordable housing and a safe haven community center, and the Town entered into option-to-buy contract with the City of Longmont for the former Longmont water treatment land on the north and south sides of Hwy 66. Lyons received the disappointing news in January 2016 that the competition didn’t award any funds to the State of Colorado, but other funding might be found. In March and April of 2016, the Lyons community participated in the Eastern Corridor Primary Planning Area planning process, providing input on future land use in that area, whenever future landowners apply to annex to Lyons. Affordable housing, senior housing, small cottages, and mixed residential, business, and retail use were some of the land uses that the public strongly supported for the Eastern Corridor.
For a history of post-flood efforts for affordable housing in Lyons, you can read previous columns posted on my blog at https://lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. All town meetings of the elected Lyons Board of Trustees and appointed town boards and commissions are open to the public and are supposed to be posted on the town calendar at www.townoflyons.com/calendar.aspx . 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 from 2015-2016. She has lived in Lyons since 2003 and in the surrounding Lyons area since 1995.