Carbondale deed-restriction changes on hold |

Carbondale deed-restriction changes on hold

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – The town’s trustees are worried that changes proposed for the rules at one affordable housing complex, Keator Grove, might spell disaster for other such projects or for Carbondale’s overall affordable housing guidelines.

So the board of trustees will sit down at a work session in May to review the relevant town codes and other documents, before turning back to the Keator Grove situation.

“I need more time to make sure there’s no unintended consequences,” said Trustee Frosty Merriott at the board meeting on Tuesday.

At that meeting, the trustees reviewed the latest request from the Aspen Skiing Co. and individual owners of homes in Keator Grove, seeking changes to the deed restrictions governing resale of certain homes and townhomes in the project.

The Skico owns 16 of the 52 units in the complex, and has formed a sort of partnership with individual homeowners. Together, they are hoping to eliminate price caps for resale of some units.

The price caps limit the yearly appreciation in the prices of homes, as a way of keeping the units affordable. But when prices plummet due to the economy, the caps are seen as a threat to the owners’ equity.

Homes that three years ago sold for $450,000, for example, might today sell for half that amount, according to Skico attorney Dave Myler and Keator Grove homeowners.

Maria Bagby, a Keator Grove homeowner, told the board that prospective buyers for Keator Grove homes have backed away over fears that the deed restrictions would limit their resale options and potential profit.

This is particularly true, Myler told Trustee John Foulkrod, because once the price drops, the deed restrictions reset the home’s value at the new price and allow for modest annual appreciation in the price from that point forward.

Related issues arose at the Tuesday meeting, including a request to decrease a per-unit fee that goes to the Mountain Regional Housing (MRH) nonprofit.

Founded in 1993, MRH assists with the marketing of deed-restricted homes and performs other services in the realm of affordable housing in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The fee has been 1.5 percent of the sale price, but Myler asked that it be decreased to a maximum of $1,000 per unit.

Janet Rippy, executive director of MRH, said that would significantly diminish the agency’s income from Keator Grove housing.

At 1.5 percent of the Keator Grove sale price, she said, MRH stands to earn roughly $85,000 from the sale of all of the units in the complex.

If the fee drops to $1,000 per unit, she said, after the sale of all the homes the MRH income would be cut to $16,000, a decrease that she indicated could cut into MRH’s ability to do its work.

During a wide-ranging discussion, the trustees wondered whether changes to the Keator Grove rules might invite requests for similar changes at other affordable housing projects .

They also wondered what precedents might be set, and how a decision today might reverberate into the future.

After declining to rule on the Skico request, the trustees agreed to take the matter up at a work session scheduled for May 22 at Town Hall.

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