Published in the Jan. 18, 2017, edition of the Redstone Review.
Affordable housing still a town priority
COMMENTARY: AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN LYONS
By Amy Reinholds
Affordable Housing Columnist
LYONS – Affordable housing is still on the priority list for Lyons, as presented at a Jan. 11 Lyons Town Hall meeting.
At the special summary “Town Hall” meeting to update the public, Lyons Mayor Connie Sullivan and Lyons Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen presented a summary of 2016 budget and flood recovery projects, and a list of projects and goals for 2017.
The presentation highlighted that the Town of Lyons lost approximately 70 homes and 200 residents in the September 2013 flood.
Sullivan and Simonsen said the Town of Lyons is negotiating with the City of Longmont to buy the former Longmont water treatment plant land east of town limits. Because of inability to place the Lyons Public Works building that was damaged in the flood elsewhere in town, a part of the City of Longmont land is the best location available, if the Town of Lyons can line up the funding sources to purchase it. The Town of Lyons could use reserves in the town’s enterprise fund purchase the entire property from Longmont, both on north and south sides of Hwy 66, totally more than 9 acres. Then the Town of Lyons could annex the land into Lyons town limits, subdivide it, and sell off other parcels to private sector buyers who want to build commercial or mixed use residential to reimburse the town’s enterprise fund.
The mayor and the town administrator also said that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) would be willing to relocate from a current location in northwest Lyons near Eagle Canyon to the eastern corridor land near a Lyons Public Works site, if the Town of Lyons buys the land from Longmont. Then the Town of Lyons could have the old CDOT location for residential land. CDOT was not planning on moving its location but would be willing to move to help Lyons with housing needs, Simonsen said. However, Lyons would need to pay about $1 million in costs to relocate CDOT to the eastern corridor.
They also told the public at the Jan. 11 Town Hall meeting that $4 million in federal disaster recovery funds (community development block grants) is still available for new affordable flood-recovery housing in Lyons, but all that money must be obligated to a specific project by September 2017 and spent two years later.
Sullivan and Simonsen also summarized and answered questions about the Lyons Primary Planning Area master plan for the eastern corridor area, which has been going on since March 2016. And they explained that the Town of Lyons has secured a $1.5 million grant to bring out sewer and water to that entire area.
The Lyons Primary Planning Area is an area of Boulder County on the outskirts of Town of Lyons limits, where landowners in the area are allowed to petition to annex into the town, based on an agreement between the Town of Lyons and Boulder County. The Lyons Primary Planning Area Master Plan focuses on three subareas: the Eastern Corridor, South St. Vrain, and Apple Valley. The Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) is now reviewing drafts of the final master plan, and public hearings will give yet two more chances for the public to provide input, in addition to 10 public input meetings in 2016.
The intention of the Primary Planning Area Master Plan is to guide Town of Lyons decision makers, including the current and future Board of Trustees, on how to make decisions when presented with petitions for annexation. To avoid ad hoc decisions, the master plan intends to equip town leaders with appropriate future land uses, based on input from residents and geographic and economic feasibility.
The types of land use that are considered for the eastern corridor are mixed use (residential and commercial), commercial along Highway 66, small-lot residential away from the highway, mixed industrial office, and general industrial.
The PCDC is finding that it takes a long time to get a final version of a Lyons Primary Planning Area master plan that will guide future annexations to the Town of Lyons. Delays have been both with the consultants incorporating requested changes and with discussions between commissioners about different philosophies about growth.
These discussions about the eastern corridor and locations and funding for a new public works building and affordable housing were just a small part of what was discussed at the Jan. 11 Town Hall meeting. Look for the presentation on www.townoflyons.com, and make sure to attend the next Lyons Town Hall meeting so you can hear the information for yourself.
The Town Hall meeting also did not describe the 6 Habitat for Humanity homes that will be built along the north side of Park Street, east of 2nd Ave on land that Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley purchased in late 2016.
When the new Habitat for Humanity duplexes are constructed, Lyons will have 6 more homes toward those lost in the September 2013 flood. The Town of Lyons lost a total of about 70 flood-destroyed homes to both the federal buyout programs (including one buy out of a mobile home park expected to close soon) and to the changed use of a second mobile home park property to an event venue (rezoned for commercial use). In March 2015, a proposal for subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 units) in 5-7 acres of Bohn Park was voted down 614 to 498 in a special election.
For history of post-flood efforts for affordable housing in Lyons, you can read previous columns posted on my blog at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. All town meetings of the elected Lyons Board of Trustees and appointed, volunteer town boards and commissions like the PCDC are open to the public and posted on the town calendar at www.townoflyons.com/calendar.aspx. This column is a monthly commentary in the Redstone Review. 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 its existence from April 2015-April 2016. She has lived in Lyons since 2003 and in the surrounding Lyons area since 1995.