Basalt officials hit on idea to relocate trailer park residents
After years of hand-wringing over how to relocate residents of 90 mobile homes out of the flood path of the Roaring Fork River, Basalt officials believe they have struck gold.
A proposal by the town staff would tweak the government’s affordable housing guidelines in ways that would potentially raise funds for relocation, spur cooperation from developers and offset trailer owners for their losses, according to Town Manager Tom Baker.
The proposal hasn’t been reviewed yet by the town planning commission or the Town Council, so it’s only tentative. But if adopted, here’s how it would work:
The town would amend its guidelines to allow developers to contribute to an affordable housing fund rather than build affordable housing themselves. The town code currently requires that 20 percent of new residential developments be built as affordable housing. Commercial developments must provide affordable housing on a sliding scale, depending on how many employees are generated.
The affordable housing fund would be used by the town in two ways. First, it could provide the money needed to construct a housing project on land either donated or acquired by the town, Baker said.
The money could also be used to offset the financial loss experienced by residents of the Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park and the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park if they were relocated, Baker said.
The Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park has 52 trailer spaces while the Pan and Fork has 38. A study completed last year identifies the trailer parks and adjacent Levinson property in potential danger in the case of a catastrophic flood on the Roaring Fork River.
The Town Council wants the trailers moved but not in a way that banishes the residents from Basalt or wipes out the equity for those that own their trailers.
The town code requires that anyone who redevelops the trailer parks would have to replace 100 percent of the housing. However, the code deals in units, Baker said. There would be no guarantee that the people in those units would be provided with housing that allows them to stay in Basalt.
He said accepting payments-in-lieu of housing for developers of other projects could raise the funds Basalt needs to make relocation of the trailer park residents a reality.
The proposal includes incentives for redevelopment of the trailer parks. While the town would require replacing 100 percent of the affordable housing lost, it would ease requirements for additional affordable housing.
As the code reads now, a developer would have to replace 100 percent of the housing and provide additional housing for whatever new is constructed.
Less onerous conditions might be necessary to entice developers to buy the trailer parks, provide replacement housing elsewhere, then redevelop the riverside property not threatened by a flood, Baker said.
The town removed five residents from the Levinson property when it acquired it through open-space funds last year. Baker said the town will hold itself to the same requirement of replacing all five units. Owners of two trailers have been paid the appraised value of their homes, and negotiations are being held with a third.
Two cabins were also rented on the property when the town acquired it.
A package of changes to Basalt’s housing guidelines are scheduled to be reviewed by the planning commission and Town Council in February.
[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com]
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