Published in the May 9, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder.
COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?
Another ADU and a plan for Summit affordable rentals
by Amy Reinholds
The Lyons Board of Trustees approved a conditional use review on May 6 for the sixth accessory dwelling unit (ADU) since new town code was put in place to incentivize more small, long-term market-rate rentals in town.
The Board of Trustees changed town code in December 2016, hoping to inspire homeowners in residential neighborhoods to build more long-term rental units at the lower end of the market. Homeowners who want to build detached ADUs, also known as carriage houses or mother-in-law apartments on single-family-home residential (R-1) lots in the Town of Lyons now save up to $20,000-$40,000 in utility connection fees because even detached ADUs in separate buildings to share the utilities with the main house.
The conditional use review for a proposed 592 square-foot, one-bedroom apartment built above a garage at 406 Prospect was approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees after a public hearing. Only one member of the public spoke during the public comment period. Rick DiSalvo, the neighbor who lives across the alley, said it wouldn’t negatively affect the viewshed for the confluence neighborhood because it is further to the east. “I think the sense of the community is they are in favor of this as well,” he said.
The applicant, Jason Stillman, said he and his wife want to build a literal mother-in-law suite. He said his wife’s mother will be visiting for about a week every month to help with childcare. “In about ten years or so we would probably rent it out to someone who is looking for a one-bedroom apartment, which I understand there is a shortage of.”
Town Planner Paul Glasgow said because the garage is in the 100-year floodplain, the entire garage structure would have to be made more flood resistant. More information about the ADU policy is in my column last week, available at Lyons Board of Trustees to review sixth ADU proposal since 2016.
Even though this new market-rate ADU probably won’t be on the market for ten years, the public did learn more at the May 6 meeting about the subsidized rental homes that Summit Housing Group wants to build in Lyons Valley Park. Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen told the trustees that all applications for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) funding have been filed with the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) and Summit is waiting to hear back from CHFA.
Summit is under contract with Keith Bell to purchase land in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision, intending to build 11 single family homes on already platted lots and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on Lyons Valley Park Tract A of Filing 8 (about 4 acres) – all rental homes affordable for people who earn 60 percent of the area median or less.
Simonsen told the trustees that Summit has submitted preliminary drawings on the 11 single family homes to the town. “They will want to get going on that project,” she said. “Their goal would be to be able to start construction for the single family homes by end of June.” The development process for the single-family homes is like all others already platted in the subdivision and elsewhere in Lyons, requiring a permitting and development process with the Town of Lyons.
On Feb. 12, the State Housing Board approved Summit Housing Group’s application for $4 million of federal disaster recovery funds to build those 40 total affordable rental homes in Lyons. The application was approved for Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds, at a maximum of $100,000 per rental home, $4 million total for 40 residences.
In April, Glasgow reported to the Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) that Summit will probably complete the purchase of the land from Bell in June and start the town process for development. He said that the development plan for the 29 apartments in multifamily buildings on Lyons Valley Park Tract A is expected to be submitted within a few months.
Lyons lost about 76 to 94 destroyed homes in the 2013 flood. In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. However, $4 million of federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds were still set aside for affordable housing in Lyons, and the State Housing Board voted in February to approve Summit Housing Group’s application for those funds for building 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on land the company plans to buy in Lyons Valley Park. All 40 homes would be rented to households with incomes at 60 percent or less of the area median income. Until Summit’s proposal, a few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals were pursued, but nothing got very far in the process.
The only post-flood, deed-restricted, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112, 114, and 116 Park Street where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building three duplexes (a total of six, for-sale homes) on six residential lots. The first duplex was completed in April 2019. Later this spring and summer the other two duplexes are expected to be finished, but your help is needed. To volunteer, no specific experience is needed, and training is on the job for each 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. volunteer shift. At www.stvrainhabitat.org/construction, after clicking FLOOD REBUILD-LYONS, volunteers can review all volunteer days with openings and sign up for one or more of the specific days they are available. To donate online, go to www.coloradogives.org/rebuildlyons. For any questions, contact Rebecca Shannon, Community Engagement Manager, Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley, at 303-682-2485 x 102 or rshannon @stvrainhabitat.org.
This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.