For two years, I have been following a proposal from Summit Housing Group to purchase land in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision to build a total of 40 affordable rentals. A development plan for 21 townhomes (in five buildings) is now before the Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) on Tuesday, March 10. (The remaining affordable rentals are planned as 19 single-family homes on 19 lots already platted in the subdivision).
This public hearing is an invitation for the public to comment, either in person, or by submitting written or emailed comments to the Deputy Town Clerk Marissa Davis (at email@example.com) ahead of time. Even if you plan to the attend the meeting in person, it is OK to email a comment you plan to read before the meeting. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Lyons Town Hall.
Summit, based in Missoula, Montana, is under contract with landowner Keith Bell to purchase both Tract A of Filing No. 8 for multifamily buildings, and 19 existing platted single-family-home lots in the subdivision. All of the proposed rental homes must be affordable for households at between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income, required by the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) funding that Summit plans to use. Last week I wrote about specific affordability requirements Summit must follow because of that LIHTC funding.
As part of earlier engagements with Lyons residents, representatives from Summit held public meetings in the Lyons Valley Park neighborhood (at Lyons Middle/Senior High School) in May and September 2018, where they answered questions and collected input from neighbors and other surrounding residents of Lyons. Summit was originally considering building 43 units of multifamily, but continued to lower that number.
At the May 17, 2018 meeting (the first meeting Summit representatives held in Lyons), one neighbor said, “There are a lot of people [here in Lyons Valley Park] who want affordable housing for everyone, but we just don’t want that much. Help us do that smaller amount.” Sam Long, senior project manager for Summit Housing Group, responded with, “That’s an option.” He also said, “We will take it through the process, but if you tell the Board of Trustees that you want 29 units, and that is what the town wants, we’ll build 29 units.” A more recent plan Summit was considering in 2019 was for 29 multifamily homes and 11 single-family homes.
Now, the number is 21 townhomes and 19 single-family homes. All must be rentals and affordable to people who qualify under the federal LIHTC funding requirements as described earlier. Examples of rent estimates that Summit representatives have given at past meetings for two-bedroom apartments are $906 a month for a 40 percent area-median income household, and $1,200 a month for a 60 percent area-median income household, varying depending on family size. Last week’s column links to more resources about area median income.
There have been several steps in the process, including Summit securing funding through both the LIHTC program and also the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds. In February 2019, the State of Colorado Housing Board approved Summit’s application for CDBG-DR funds (at a maximum of $100,000 per home, $4 million total for 40 total rental homes).
Here’s how the process will work in Lyons on March 10. The public hearing is for the PCDC to consider a Development Plan Review submitted by Summit for the townhomes on the property at 0 Carter Drive. Development plan documents are already posted on the town website. More materials will also be available in a “meeting packet” for the commissioners and available to the public, including comments received before the meeting from the public and from the official “referral agencies,” which have been given to Summit to address. Town staff will present to the PCDC, Summit as the applicant will present to the PCDC, and the public comment portion of the meeting will invite people to sign up to speak to the PCDC. The commissioners will then discuss with each other, ask questions of town staff and Summit, and consider approving the development plan.
Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen said at the March 2 Board of Trustees meeting that input regarding the development plan from referral agencies (including public safety, utilities, state transportation, and various town boards and commissions) was provided to Summit about the development plan. Summit will need to respond to this input as part of the development plan review process. Also on March 2, the Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) voted unanimously on two statements for the development plan to include as comments to the PCDC.
The first statement concerns trails: “The Parks and Rec Commission agrees with section one under Significant Environmentally Sensitive Factors in the Environmental Impact Response that states ‘the project will try to maintain current open space features like the trail systems etc. that is important to the town of Lyons residents…’ It is the desire of the PRC to maintain the trail connection to the South Ledge Ditch access road. The existing easement just west of lot 17 will be located on a steep embankment, and the PRC would like to know if other easement locations are feasible. One easement location may be south of lots 25 and 26 and north of lot 27. We estimate the easement would be approximately 115 feet long and begin off of Lively Ct.”
The second statement concerns town employee recruitment and retention: “The Parks and Rec Commission believes that the proposed development on Tract A can provide housing opportunities for current and potential town employees which are currently unavailable.”
At the March 10 PCDC public hearing, there will not be any members of the Lyons Board of Trustees or candidates running for the Board of Trustees in the audience, unless they are prepared to recuse themselves if a future decision on this development plan comes before the Board of Trustees. The town attorney has advised that if there is a bias or prejudgment, the State of Colorado standards for ethical conduct of elected officials require that the trustees must recuse themselves from a consideration, vote, or decision.