Affordable housing proposal passes through Rifle Planning and Zoning Commission |

Affordable housing proposal passes through Rifle Planning and Zoning Commission

A proposal for an affordable housing development featuring 10 duplex townhomes and 10 additional multi-family units went before the Rifle Planning and Zoning Commission last week.

The complex, proposed by the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity of the Roaring Fork Valley, is planned to be constructed directly south of Taco Bell and Rib City Grill at the corner of Smith Street and Wapiti Avenue in South Rifle. The two parcels are next door to a major light industrial sector conducive to high traffic.

Though its preliminary plans and specs passed unanimously, Rifle Planning and Zoning commissioners asked whether the site’s playground — intended for private use only — would inadvertently attract a high number of visitors.

Rifle Planning and Zoning Chairperson Dustin Marantino questioned whether the city should require the park to become public.

“I don’t think it lends itself to the privacy of the neighborhood there,” he said. “But just the practical matter of it is, the hotels, people stopping at Taco Bell — whatever — people are going to gravitate to it if they see it.”

Commissioner Marc Caldwell also said the South Rifle area is in need of a park.

But Habitat for Humanity for the Roaring Fork Valley President Gail Schwartz said having the park public would cause concern.

“We are concerned about children and seniors and proximity to the homes, and we want to have diverse aspects to it in terms of play equipment and seating,” she said.

Jake Ezratty, a Basalt Vista Project Manager for Roaring Fork’s Habitat for Humanity, said fences will be built around the park, which is set to occupy the western parcel behind the units. With no real residential neighborhood in the area, the complex’s architecture is deliberately designed with industrial facades and exteriors intended to blend into the area.

Habitat officials originally proposed the project to Rifle City Council earlier this summer. In July, Habitat requested the city waive more than $245,409 in impact fees, including parkland dedication and offsite street impact fees.

In October, the city voted to waive $100,000 in fees to build the Wapiti Commons. Meanwhile, city staff is currently working with Habitat for Humanity to go after a substantial grant through the Department of Local Affairs to refund the city for the fees they voted to waive.

The units themselves will target prospective residents who make 70-100% of Garfield County’s household Area Median Income, according to city documents. Condos should sell for $170,000 to $190,000 and townhomes $240,000 to $290,000.

Rifle City Council has to vote for final approval before construction can begin, which is slated for spring 2022.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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