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Summit OKs affordable housing funds

Bob Berwyn and Lory Pounder
Summit Daily/Kristin Skvorc
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SUMMIT COUNTY – Voter approval for measure 5A is only the beginning of the battle to tackle a growing housing gap in Summit County, said Bonnie Osborn.Supporters of the affordable housing funding initiative broke into ear-splitting yells Tuesday night after getting the news, releasing all the pent-up emotion from a nail-biting campaign. Early polling showed only narrow support for the measure, but Osborn said dedicated teamwork and endorsements from all major stakeholders in Summit County made the difference.Measure 5A will raise up to $32 million during the next 10 years with a combination of a sales tax increase and a graduated development impact fee, which could make a dent in the current countywide housing gap estimated to be as large as 2,000 units.

Osborn said she expects that some units will be built, or at least under construction, by the end of 2007.”We’ll have to see what land is available out there,” said Osborn, who rallied support from all major stakeholders to pull off a bit of a political upset. 5A was tabbed as dead in the water after early polling showed only a slim margin of support.Supporter Don Parsons, a Dillon town council member, said the program is targeted primarily at people making 80 percent or less of the average median income, and keeping the price of deed-restricted units below $267,000.While there is a glut of second-home type developments in the county, basic units for local service workers and professionals is in short supply. Schools, already finding it hard to keep new teachers, may find it almost impossible to replace a wave of retiring educators, based on the lack of housing, Parsons said.

But those arguments didn’t convince Chris Hinderer, of Summit Cove, who said he was eager to vote against 5A. He said the housing tax plan was a step too far to the left. “Socialism hurts the people it’s intended to help,” Hinderer said.Frisco voters also rejected building a Colorado Mountain Campus on the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area, ending months of tough campaigning. “We were hoping to win by a bigger margin, but the bottom line is we won,” said Eileen Davies, co-chair of The Save Our Peninsula – Again! citizens’ group. “We worked incredibly hard and it paid off.”



The group’s message was simple. They weren’t opposed to the community college in Frisco, just to it being on the peninsula. To them, it was an issue of open space and the majority of residents who voted on the issue agreed.It failed by 142 votes. About 55 percent of the 1,245 Frisco voters checked no, about 45 percent checked yes and more than 98 percent of those who voted on it voted early.Dr. Leah Bornstein, dean of Colorado Mountain College, said now that the community made their decision, the college will announce its future plans at the beginning of next week.”The college is eager to move forward with new programs that meet the needs of Summit County,” she said.

Leading up to Election Day, Neighbors United for Future Frisco made a push to bring the consolidated campus to town. Their message was that the college would bring cultural opportunities that would benefit the community.Currently, the peninsula is home to the Frisco Nordic Center, a disc golf course, ball fields, a skateboard park, a campground and trails used for hiking, biking and leisure.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado


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