Housing initiative passed

County developers offering affordable options will be rewarded

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— Developers who provide affordable housing in Routt County will be rewarded, officials decided Tuesday.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners voted 3-0 to approve a resolution establishing a countywide affordable housing benefits program.

"Hopefully it will help with a little bit more affordable housing in Routt County," Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.

Also, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve $20,000 in funding for the program. That money is in addition to the $60,000 the county already allocates to the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, making the county's total contribution to affordable housing equal to $80,000, Stahoviak said.

The program provides incentives for developers at two levels.

To meet the first level of requirements, a developer must place a permanent deed restriction on residential units. The restriction is that initial and subsequent residents of the unit will meet certain qualifications to live in the unit.

To be qualified, a person must be an employee in Routt County as well as make 120 percent or less of the county's Annual Median Income. The person or family must also not have more than $100,000 in net assets. The residential unit must be owner-occupied.

The second level has the same requirements as the first level, but there are also resale controls. A resale control limits the amount for which a unit can be resold. The amount the county set is the initial market value of the unit plus an increase of 3 percent per year.

If a developer built a 1,200-square-foot unit at the cost of $110 per square foot, the unit's valuation would be $132,000. The developer would face the following fees: building permit, $751.50; plan review, $488.48; and county use tax, $660.

If the developer met the first level of affordable housing, he or she would save 50 percent on both the building permit and plan review fees. If the developer met the second level, he or she would save 75 percent on the building permit and plan review fees as well as 75 percent on the county use tax. Use tax is based on the estimated cost of building materials.

The resolution was modeled after an ordinance the city of Steamboat Springs passed in 1999, said Kathi Meyer, who is on the Yampa Valley Housing Authority board. Authority officials helped county officials work on the resolution.

Meyer said she hopes the county initiatives are incentives for other municipalities to pass their own similar regulations.

"The county commissioners recognized that one of the challenges to building affordable housing in Routt County are the fees," she said. She said that on Tuesday they took a step to resolve that issue.

Stahoviak said county commissioners, as well as department leaders, worked to make compromises to come up with the percentages. Officials will now have to see if people will take advantage of the program, she said.

"I'm just really pleased that we got to this point," Stahoviak said. " This is an important issue and we want to do what we can to help (provide incentives)."

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229

or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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