Carbondale trustees revise town’s housing guidelines
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE, Colorado ” The Carbondale trustees unanimously approved a set of revised guidelines for the town’s affordable housing program at their regular meeting Tuesday. But not without some discussion and changes.
Town Manager Tom Baker and Housing Planner Kay Philip presented the revised guidelines to the council and then fielded remarks from the trustees before a final decisive vote. Mayor Michael Hassig was not at the meeting, which was chaired by Mayor Pro-Tem Stacey Bernot.
The existing guidelines require developers to provide 15 affordable units out of every 100 housing units constructed, or 15 percent mitigation. The revised guidelines will continue to require the same level of mitigation except when the new development is to be annexed to the town, in which case 20 percent mitigation will be required.
In addition, the new guidelines require that a lottery be used to ensure that the affordable units are distributed fairly among deserving locals, and the maximum income used to determine eligibility for affordable housing will be adjusted for the size of the applicant’s household. That is, if an applicant has a dependent, that applicant could have a slightly higher income and still qualify for the same category of affordable dwelling.
The revised guidelines also have added a requirement that developers are to supply resident owner-occupied (RO) units. RO units do not limit the income or assets of the owner and do not have limits on initial price or appreciation. However, they must be occupied by their owner, and that owner must live there year-round, with absences of no more than three months total per year. Once a developer has provided the required percentage of mitigation units, 30 percent of the remaining units built must be designated RO.
Trustee Ed Cortez commented that moving the mitigation level to 20 percent for annexations while staying at 15 percent for areas currently in the town is a good compromise. Previously, several trustees and trustee candidates had spoken out in favor of raising the overall mitigation to 20 percent of all dwellings built.
“I think 20 percent is an incredibly small percentage for Carbondale,” said Trustee John Hoffmann, one of three new trustees elected to the board in April. The revised housing guidelines have been in discussion for a year, or longer.
Another change says that affordable units must account for at least 10 percent of all bedrooms in a new development. Trustee Frosty Merriott requested an explanation.
“That’s to ensure that we get a variety of units and not all studios,” Baker said.
Trustee John Foulkrod questioned an additional requirement on resident owner-occupied housing ” that purchasers of RO units must have worked in the Roaring Fork Valley for at least four years to be eligible.
“I find that the RO restrictions are much harder than on the affordable units,” he complained.
“The intent is to not allow these to be retirement units for somebody who’s coming in from out of town,” Baker explained. But he said they intended that RO would be available for retirement housing for anyone who had a work history in the valley, as well as those currently working.
“But in the same breath, you’re diminishing the free market housing supply by 40 percent,” Foulkrod replied.
Under the guidelines, one requirement to qualify for affordable housing is that applicants may not own other dwellings in the area.
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