Affordable housing provisions won’t extend to western part of Garfield County, at least not yet
Garfield County commissioners are not quite ready to extend the county’s affordable housing requirements to residential developments in the western part of the county.
Commissioners on Monday rejected a staff recommendation that the county’s so-called inclusionary zoning for housing be expanded to include unincorporated areas along the Interstate 70 corridor portion of the county.
Currently, the county requires that 10% of units in new subdivisions in the Roaring Fork Valley part of the county be provided at below-market prices to buyers meeting certain income qualifications, and maintained with deed restrictions under the Garfield County Housing Authority.
However, when those rules were originally written and then revised in 2013, the commissioners decided not to have them apply to the western part of the county along the Interstate 70 corridor.
The reasoning was that housing prices on that end of the county were already somewhat more affordable than in Glenwood Springs or Carbondale, and the commissioners didn’t want to hinder development and cause the prices of free-market homes to increase.
“Housing affordability is challenging throughout the county, not just in the Roaring Fork Valley,” Garfield County Community Development Director Sheryl Bower said to start off a discussion at Monday’s regular Board of County Commissioners meeting about several land-use code text amendments aimed at making it easier to build workforce housing in the county.
Commissioners Tom Jankovsky and Mike Samson — with Commission Chairman John Martin absent — agreed to several other code changes, but Samson drew the line at requiring developers in his Rifle-area district to provide a certain percentage of deed-restricted units.
While staff had recommended expansion of the program, the county’s appointed Planning Commission recommended against it, saying they didn’t want to put that burden on developers and potentially have those costs be passed along to free-market home buyers.
“I guess I agree with that argument,” Samson said, adding he believes Martin would feel the same way.
Jankovsky indicated he was ready to expand the program to include the western part of the county.
“I agree with staff, primarily because of what we’ve seen happen in Glenwood Springs,” Jankovsky said, noting that homes that originally sold in Cardiff Glen for around $200,000-$300,000 when that neighborhood was first developed in the early 2000s are now going for $600,000-$700,000.
“We’re seeing these increases in prices all the way west,” he said, indicating the commissioners could always revisit the question at a later time.
In the meantime, several amendments to the county’s residential and commercial land-use codes were approved Monday in an effort to make it easier for developers and even employers to provide workforce housing.
One change codifies the ability for developers to work with nonprofit organizations to construct their required deed-restricted units at a site other than with the main development. A recent subdivision approved for Oak Meadows south of Glenwood Springs intends to work with Habitat for Humanity to build its required units, but county code needed to be amended to facilitate that and spell out timing, cost and proof of a long-term agreement.
Other code changes relate to density bonuses for developers who include deed-restricted units, including accessory dwelling units, and increasing the allowed size of ADUs from 1,000 to 1,200 square feet.
Also, owners of larger commercial and industrial properties in Garfield County will now be able to build up to four workforce housing units per acre on site with limited county review.
Rules for temporary workforce housing as part of existing commercial/industrial operations are also addressed with the code changes.
Post Independent interim Managing Editor and senior reporter John Stroud can be reached at email@example.com or at 970-384-9160.
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