Agreement sets prices in Woody Creek
Residents of the Woody Creek Mobile Home Park have been waiting more than a decade to own the land under their homes, each year inching closer to that goal.One of the most daunting hurdles remaining has to do with price. Specifically, residents and government officials have been struggling over how to classify the lots in a way that ensures they remain affordable while allowing owners to recoup the cost of improvements they make to their homes.The Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority purchased the Woody Creek Mobile Home Park in the late 1990s with the intention of subdividing the property into lots, selling them to the park’s tenants as deed-restricted affordable housing. Once the subdivision is completed, all of the lots will have deed restrictions set by the housing authority.In the past, the trailer park’s board has maintained that they’d like their homes designated as resident occupied, or RO, while housing authority officials have recommended they be classified as Category housing. An RO classification would allow them to resell their homes without a specified price cap, while the various Category classifications have specific caps on how much a home can be sold for.The housing authority proposed Wednesday that properties in the park be placed in categories 5, 6 and 7, depending on their lot sizes, in order to widen the potential price ranges of the homes. Under the recommendation, lots 3,000 square feet or less would be classified as Category 5, lots 3,001 to 4,000 square feet as Category 6, and lots above 4,001 square feet into Category 7. The maximum sales prices of Category 5, 6 and 7 currently are $406,000, $441,000 and $482,000, respectively.Trailer park residents who were at the meeting said they agreed with the compromise. They had feared that the recommendation would be for a lower Category, which would have meant their property would be worth even less.Deed restrictions for the park would establish the initial value of each home based on an appraisal of the lot and the improvements on it. For some, those improvements constitute rundown trailers that need to be replaced. Tenants have worried they won’t be able to recoup the cost of replacing old trailers with new ones, not to mention other infrastructure improvements that need to be done at the park.”We want the park’s residents to be able to recoup their costs, but we also want to make sure there’s someone out there who can buy the lot from them,” said housing operations manager Cindy Christiansen. “We don’t want people to sell their lots to out-of-towners.”Pitkin County commissioners approved the first reading of the subdivision plans at their Feb. 23 meeting, but requested that the park’s board of directors and the Housing Authority agree on the deed restriction before the second reading of the subdivision application on March 9.Some of the commissioners voiced strong disapproval of the RO classification, citing other developments like the privately developed “affordable” housing at the North 40. Commissioner Mick Ireland pointed out that some homes in the North 40 neighborhood have resold for more than $1 million, because lot buyers had no limit on what they could spend on their homes.With this mix of categories, 18 lots in the park would be Category 5, 28 lots Category 6 and 12 lots Category 7.The commissioners are not bound by the housing board’s recommendations.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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