Affordable housing plan approved in Avon
Vail, CO Colorado
AVON, Colorado ” Hoping to keep more families in Avon, the town council approved a long-debated affordable housing plan that requires developers to build reasonably priced homes for workers.
Avon, like most communities in the valley, is a tough place to live when it comes to affordable housing. Only 29 percent of Avon’s workforce lives in-town, with first time home-buyers and seasonal employees alike moving downvalley to find cheaper homes, according to a housing study released in 2007.
The new guidelines require developers to provide affordable housing based on how many employees and residents a project will generate. Developers will be expected to examine what kind of impact they’ll have on the community based on a regularly updated housing study done by RRC Associates.
The study calculates how many employees and residents would be generated by different kinds of developments ” whether it’s a bar, office or a condo complex ” and suggests how much attainable housing the developer should be responsible for.
This gives developers some sure numbers to keep in mind when they’re building a project, said Matt Gennett, a senior planner for the town.
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The plan has flexibility. It will be up to the Town Council to decide how much housing should be provided by the developer on a case-by-case basis, dependent on other public benefits a developer might offer, say building a park, sidewalk improvements or a pedestrian plaza area.
And keeping with the flexibility theme, the town will consider allowing the developer to pay or donate land instead of building homes, if that’s what makes sense for a project, Gennett said.
“It offers that incentive to try something creative without being boxed in by rigid, non-negotiable standards,” Gennett said.
Gregory Holzer doesn’t plan on getting married or having kids anytime soon, but he’s at least hoping to find a small apartment in Avon where he doesn’t have to live with a roommate. Otherwise, he likes the town.
“It’s handy. It takes me five minutes to walk to the library or rec center,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kira Swinger can easily see the day where she’ll be married with kids, a day when she’d want a buy a three- or four-bedroom home in Avon, if it could at all compete with downvalley prices.
“I’d like to stay here more than a couple years. Just depends on money,” Swinger said.
Avon planners kept this diversity of homebuyers in mind while writing the new housing plans. The town is looking for a variety ” townhomes, duplexes, single-family homes, studios ” all at different price ranges, including rentals.
The guidelines say affordable housing must be built near mass transit, bike paths, walking paths, service areas like grocery stores, schools and child care. Council members have said they don’t want to see another development like the Buffalo Ridge affordable housing complex, which is separated from the rest of town.
Developers must also place some sort of deed restrictions on affordable housing units, things like residency qualifications, employment qualifications and price appreciation caps. The type of deed restrictions used will be determined on a case-by case basis to create a variety of housing types, Gennett said.
Avon has been crafting these new housing guidelines for more than a year, but several revisions and objections from developers who said the guidelines were too tough kept the plans on the drawing board.
A set of affordable housing guidelines had actually gone before the Town Council in September 2007, but several developers, residents and planning and zoning commissioners told the council that there were major problems with the guidelines, problems big enough to bring development in Avon to a standstill.
The guidelines would have required developers of residential areas to dedicate 20 percent of their projects to affordable housing. Basically, the larger the development, the more affordable housing units required.
Overall, Avon mayor Ron Wolfe called the revised, approved guidelines a “more balanced approach” to attainable housing.
Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.