Project is chance to take action
The 8th Street Village proposal gives Carbondale a chance to stop talking about the valley’s affordable housing issue and do something.Last week, the town’s board of trustees voted to continue the public hearing on the proposal for the 50-apartment project until next week. We hope that indicates the board has decided to take a long look at whether to allow a zoning change for the parcel rather than the board’s balking in light of criticism from the property’s neighbors.Those who would be the neighbors of 8th Street Village – which would go up on the west side of Eighth Street, across from the Cleveland Avenue Apartments – argued that the board allow the project only medium density, or 34 apartments instead of 50. But high density defeats the project’s purpose – affordable housing for those who work in Carbondale, which might be inching closer to “wealthy enclave” status. There’s no shortage of housing in the valley for those who make or exceed the area median income. But those who make 40 to 50 percent of AMI have few choices in the valley, and even western Garfield County is becoming more expensive with more development offsetting the savings workers gain by living there and commuting.One neighbor contended that there’s no residency restriction, employment restriction or guarantee that the people of Carbondale would benefit, and it’s true there is none. However, it’s worth looking at how we define the “people of Carbondale” – is it just those who’ve already settled into town, or do those who already work there and want to live closer to their jobs with their families count? Affordable housing strengthens the community by not forcing residents to spend as much time commuting, literally driving families and communities together.Cliched as it might be, the opposition smacks a little bit of the familiar Not In My Back Yard syndrome. It’s not like the parcel is open space; it’s zoned industrial now, and we find ourselves hard-pressed to think of an industrial project that – even if 8th Street Village stays at its proposed density – would have as small of a footprint.The project presents Carbondale with at least an opportunity to think about solutions for the valley’s affordable housing problem until its next regular meeting on Oct. 12. At most, it’s a chance to make a bold move to address the issue.The project presents Carbondale with at least an opportunity to think about solutions for the valley’s affordable housing problem until its next regular meeting on Oct. 12. At most, it’s a chance to make a bold move to address the issue.
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