Published in the Nov. 8, 2018, edition of the Lyons Recorder.
COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?
Summit proposal expected to use the $4 million in federal funds
by Amy Reinholds
Using the $4 million in federal disaster recovery funds for Lyons affordable housing by a required deadline of September 2019 is not expected to be a problem for Summit Housing Group, which proposes to build 11 single family homes and 29 homes in duplex and triplex buildings in Lyons Valley Park. Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen answered a question from a trustee at the Nov. 5 Board of Trustees meeting, by saying “After meeting with CHFA [Colorado Housing and Finance Authority] and the Department of Housing, they are confident that they can spend the $4 million within a few months of receiving it.”
Summit wants to build 10 buildings of duplexes and triplexes (a total of 29 residences) on Lyons Valley Park Tract A of Filing 8 (about 4 acres), and 11 single family homes on 11 adjacent single family home lots – all rental homes for people who earn 60 percent of the area median or less. Summit is applying for Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds, available at a maximum of $100,000 per rental home, up to $4 million for the proposed total 40 residences.
Simonsen told the trustees during her administrative report that Summit’s application for another source of funding for building the homes, the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), must be applied for by Jan. 1, 2019. She said the applications are reviewed in January, and the LIHTC is awarded in February.
She said that Summit representatives met with the fire department about the proposed road access to the new homes, and they are starting to meet with Town Planner Paul Glasgow about a schedule for the Development Plan public hearings with the Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission.
The duplexes and triplexes on Tract A of Filing 8 require a Development Plan, which starts with a public hearing before the Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission and later goes to a public hearing before the Lyons Board of Trustees. Nearby homeowners and all community members can submit public comment either in person or in written comments for all the public hearings.
The development process for single-family lots is like all others already platted in the subdivision and elsewhere in Lyons, requiring a standard permitting and development process with the Town of Lyons.
Summit has finalized a sales and purchase agreement with Keith Bell of Lyons Valley Park Inc for both Tract A of Filing 8, and 11 single family home lots, in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision. Also answering a question from the trustees on Nov. 5, Simonsen said “There was a clarification from Summit. They kept saying that they had ‘closed,’ but it was really that they were under contract.” Simonsen said that closing on the purchase of the land is expected by the end of this year.
Summit, based in Missoula, Mt., is a development company that specializes in low-income tax credit and mixed-use developments. It develops and manages rental properties in six states, including Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado, all which include portions that are affordable to people who make 60 percent of the area median income or less. The latest homes in Colorado are Centennial Park Apartments at 1205 Pace St. in Longmont. The property management site for Summit buildings,
www.leasehighland.com, shows what the applications are like for other rentals built by Summit, including the homes in Longmont. People who have questions about how a rental and application process would work in Lyons can review the information at that website.
You can read about Summit’s community meeting at the Lyons Middle and Senior High School in September, which included a preliminary concept plan for the proposed homes.
Lyons lost about 76 to 94 flood-destroyed homes. To get an accurate number of housing stock lost in the September 2013 flood, there are two ways to count. First, according to counts of Town of Lyons water taps/customer accounts, 94 customer accounts were lost after the flood (including the 32 homes in Riverbend Mobile Home Park that were originally part of one water tap). However, some of those customer accounts were on Apple Valley Road (not in town limits), and some lots in town have more than one water tap/customer account. A second way to count is the number of flood-damaged homes in the Town of Lyons lost to both the federal buyout programs and to the changed use of the Riverbend Mobile Home Park property to an event venue (rezoned for commercial use), which totals 76 lost residential units. Federal buyouts totaled 44 units – including all residential units in the Foothills Mobile Home Park – and there were also 32 families who lost homes in the Riverbend Mobile Home Park, which was rezoned as a commercial wedding and lodging venue after the 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 in federal disaster recover funds were still set aside for affordable housing in Lyons. After that vote, a few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals have been pursued, but Summit’s plan to purchase of the land in Lyons Valley Park is the first step in that building process. So far, the only post-flood, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112 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. To volunteer or to donate to Habitat for Humanity construction costs in Lyons, go to www.stvrainhabitat.org.
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. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact her directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.