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Published in the April 19, 2017, edition of the Redstone Review.

April closing dates for eastern corridor purchase, mobile home park buyout

COMMENTARY: AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN LYONS

By Amy Reinholds
Affordable Housing Columnist
Redstone Review

LYONS –Since last month’s column, two closing dates are scheduled in April that might affect affordable housing.

Town of Lyons to buy former water treatment plant from Longmont

The Town of Lyons plans to close on purchasing the former water treatment plant from the City of Longmont on April 25.

In March, the Town of Lyons and the City of Longmont agreed on a sales price of $925,000 for the land, east of U.S. 36: 6.45 acres on the north side of Colo. Hwy. 66 at 4651 Ute Hwy and 3.43 acres on south side at 4652 Ute Hwy. FEMA will pay for the part of the land where the Lyons public works building will be relocated, on 2 acres in the furthest northeast corner of the northern parcel. Insurance funds from the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA) will pay for the new public works building, which was damaged in 2013 flood. On March 20, the Lyons Board of Trustees unanimously approved both purchasing the Longmont water treatment plant land and ratifying the Lyons Primary Planning Area Master Plan, an amendment to the Lyons Comprehensive Plan to guide decisions about future annexation requests.

According to an attorney report to the Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) on April 10, state law has different requirements for town-owned land, which can be annexed into town limits directly without assigning zoning, but the property must be zoned by 90 days after the annexation. The plan for annexing the 9.88 acres is for the Board of Trustees to hold two readings of an annexation ordinance on May 1 and May 15. Although not required for this annexation step, the trustees expect to hold a public hearing (for members of the public to comment) at the second reading on May 15. Then the Town of Lyons officials and staff will come up with a schedule for subdivision and zoning and will bring it back to the PCDC for the zoning process when the final plat is ready (before July 25, to meet the 90-day requirement).

In 2015, Lyons was awarded a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Agency as matching funds to extend the sewer and water to this site in order to increase the likelihood of development and increase the employment base in Lyons. The utilities expansion work must begin by mid-June to not lose the funding. Then the next priority is to zone the 2 acres where the Lyons public works building will be located for municipal use.

After the Town of Lyons has the land, The Board of Trustees can determine the best path forward for the remainder of the parcels, and when sold, reimburse the town water enterprise fund. The land is acceptable for mixed use, residential, and commercial development, including light industrial. The town might also consider offering incentives for light-industrial businesses to swap land near the center of town that could be residential for land on the eastern corridor.

The parcels have been considered as a possible area for affordable housing, discussed in past years when the town applied for a national resiliency grant that it did not receive. Also, if light-industrial businesses move from central areas of town to this eastern corridor area, land could open up for future affordable housing in more centrally located areas.

Federal buyout for the former Foothills Mobile Home Park

The Town of Lyons is set to close April 28 with the owner of the former Foothills Mobile Home Park on a buyout with federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds.

The former 1.26-acre Foothills Mobile Home Park at 104 5th Street, had 16 residential units, some rented lots for owned mobile homes, and some rented units, most which were destroyed by the 2013 flood. The State of Colorado set priorities for how the FEMA funds from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program could be used for buyouts of flood-destroyed homes, prioritizing single family homes (the buyouts Lyons saw in the past year) over the Foothills Mobile Home Park, considered a commercial property. But now the buyout can be completed with the CDBG-DR funds. The appraisal value and sale price will be public information when the sale is completed.

The buyout will be a welcome move for owner John Baranway, who has expressed since the flood that he wanted to develop a new mobile home park, if he received buyout funds and was able to buy other property in the Lyons area that is out of the floodplain. And this buyout also provides some additional federal funds under the Uniform Relocation Act to the 16 displaced households of the Foothills Mobile Home Park – funds that are only available for mobile home park residents displaced by a federal buyout.

And for neighbors, this buyout is an opportunity for an extension of undeveloped, deed-restricted buyout land, and completed demolition and cleanup of remnants of the destroyed mobile homes.

The Town of Lyons is required to grant a 90-day notice after the April 28 closing date to a current renter of a house at the west end of the property. Then after those 90 days, when the tenant moves out, the demolition can begin. The time-frame requirements for reimbursements of demolition and cleanup costs are mandated by the federal funding sources.

After the September 2013 flood, the Town of Lyons lost a total of about 70 flood-destroyed homes to both the federal buyout programs (including the 16 homes in the Foothills Mobile Home Park) and to the changed use of the Riverbend Mobile Home Park property to an event venue (rezoned for commercial use). For history of post-flood efforts for affordable housing in Lyons, you can read previous columns posted on my blog at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. This column is a monthly commentary (opinion column) in the Redstone Review about affordable housing. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, contact me directly at areinholds@ hotmail.com.

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