Council OKs housing project

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The City Council said yes to a 30-unit affordable housing project and a $250,000 loan to help fund it, but not without questions about what the deed restrictions would be.

The Yampa Valley Housing Authority came before the council Tuesday night to ask for approval of the final development plans for Fox Creek, a townhome development off Hilltop Parkway.

The council made few comments about the merits of the development and followed the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission's recommendation to require 6-foot-wide sidewalks. The authority had requested a 4-foot sidewalk along Hilltop Parkway, a variance from the city's required 8-foot sidewalks. The wider sidewalk was estimated to cost $30,000 more.

Although in support of the plans, some council members asked tough questions about what deed restrictions would go with the affordable housing. Councilman Ken Brenner urged the housing authority to have longer deed restrictions placed on the affordable-housing units. He said he was not comfortable with the five-year deed restrictions provided in the Community Development Code.

"We must look ahead 10, 25, 50 years in the future," Brenner said. "These units once sold in five to 10 years will not be sold to someone actually working here. We will see a steady loss of work-force housing in the community."

Housing Authority President Kathi Meyer said that when the Regional Affordable Living Foundation built homes in West End Village, there were permanent deed restrictions placed on the affordable housing. Part of those deed restrictions required the buyer of the home to be an employee in Routt County and making no more than 120 percent of the area median income.

Meyer said the housing authority is waiting until it secures financing and flushes out the market demand before deciding how many homes will be deed restricted and what the restrictions will be. Housing authority officials have said at least half of the units would be deed restricted and that the restrictions would last at least five years.

"We would really like to do 100 percent, but we really believe we may need a few market houses to subsidize the lower (income)," Meyer said.

The housing authority will return to the city with the number of deed-restricted houses the project will include and what the deed restrictions are. In return, the authority will ask the city to waive or subsidize fees.

The city has an affordable-housing matrix that allows for more concessions, such as higher density and subsidizing use tax and tap fees, for the more restrictive deed restrictions placed on affordable housing.

City Council President Paul Strong said in return for the $250,000 loan, the housing authority should go beyond what is spelled out in the Community Development Code.

"This is money without any strings attached. I have some issues there," Strong said. "I will vote for this because I know people on the housing authority have the best intentions."

The $250,000 loan is to go toward the purchase of the land. The money will come out of the revolving Affordable Housing Fund, which was established almost two years ago and previously was used to help purchase land for the West End Village Project. The city and county split the cost of the revolving loan.

Routt County commissioners also approved the fund's use for Fox Creek on Tuesday, Meyer said.

The housing authority has agreed to pay the loan off in nine months with no interest.

The authority hopes to secure a general contractor and start building the two-bedroom, two-bath, 1,000-square-foot units this spring.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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