Friday, August 7, 2020

Updated Mt. CB community housing guidelines in the works

Inclusionary zoning exemption change

By Kendra Walker

As affordable housing continues to be a high priority for Mt. Crested Butte, with recent initiatives including the voter-approved 2.9 percent excise lodging tax to help fund community housing projects, and the new affordable housing Homestead subdivision under construction this summer, Mt. Crested Butte has also been working to update its Community Housing Guidelines.

Town staff and the Town Council have been collaborating with housing consultant Willa Williford and Jennifer Kermode of the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority over the past year to help update the guidelines. Last updated in 2009, a finalized draft will be reviewed by council on July 21 for consideration, with an accompanying public hearing. Mt. Crested Butte’s goal of the update is to more accurately align the language with the town code and make the document more user-friendly and easier to understand for developers, residents and town administrators.

While most changes are minor and intended to raise the quality standards of the community housing requirements for the town and the community, Mt. Crested Butte community development director Carlos Velado said there is one change to note.

A significant change to the community housing regulations is the removal of the inclusionary zoning fee exemption for the development of new single-family units on residential lots that were platted as of January 31, 2003. The proposed update would now apply the fee to all new residential development, but will exempt new single family homes less than 2,700 square feet (excluding the first 600 square feet of garage space).

Velado explained that the inclusionary zoning rate in town applies to all new residential developments, where 15 percent of the units must be affordable housing units. However, in the case of a single-family home, a payment in lieu fee can be applied instead, taking a 15 percent fractional cost from a formula based on the local affordability gap, which is updated annually based on the previous year’s real estate sales and calculated area median incomes (AMI).

“That’s no small fee,” said Velado. “Adding to the cost of a new build is significant.”

So with the proposed changes up for review on July 21, that 15 percent inclusionary zoning fee will apply only to all new single-family developments greater than 2,700 square feet, exempting any that are under 2,700 square feet. It would not apply to home additions or single-family homes in subdivisions where a community housing agreement is already in place, such as Prospect or Wildhorse.

The intention behind the new exemption, Velado said, is to prevent pricing out the more local homebuilders. “We ran some analysis of our permits for locals who have built homes here and the largest house size was 2,700 square feet. The thought process is to help allow locals who make a local working wage still be able to build a house without having that extra fee attached to it.”

Velado shared Mt. Crested Butte building data from 2015 to 2019; of 20 eligible new construction permits for single-family homes, 11 had an excess gross residential floor area of 2,700 square feet and would have been subject to the new proposed requirements.

Council will review the proposed community housing guideline changes on July 21, along with a public hearing for public feedback. The drafted changes can be viewed by contacting the Mt. Crested Butte Community Development Department at (970) 349-6632.

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