Locals first for Snowmass housing, group advises
July 29, 2009
SNOWMASS VILLAGE – For the past six weeks, the Housing Advisory Committee has been scrutinizing lottery procedures, how priorities should be set and the number of people required per unit in the coveted employee housing units scattered about Snowmass Village. It unveiled some of its findings this week during a Town Council special meeting.
Trying to keep units in the hands of Snowmass Village employees is the main objective for the committee, according to Town Council member Sally Sparhawk. That could mean a single Snowmass employee could potentially buy a two-bedroom unit or a couple could end up with a three-bedroom place rather than allowing the unit to go to a Pitkin County worker who could fill up the bedrooms.
“Personally, the only time I think this could come up is with Sinclair Meadows,” Sparhawk said, referring to the forthcoming complex on Owl Creek Road that’s being built as mitigation for Base Village. It’s expected to be ready for occupancy this fall.
The committee recommended that in-complex bids – from employees already residing in a complex – get first priority, followed by Snowmass Village full-time employees with three or more years of work history. Locals with one to three years would be third in line and the aforementioned pair of residents with three or more years of employment could potentially buy a three-bedroom home. Fifth priority goes to locals with one to three years of employment who don’t meet the minimum one-person-per-bedroom requirement. Last on the list are employees in Pitkin County at large with one year or more under their belt.
The group also looked at whether employees of special districts should receive priority in the lottery. While some council members have favored the concept of putting hospital and school district employees at the head of the pack, the committee decided otherwise. One reason is the potential legal problems such favortism could pose, according to Sparhawk.
Councilman Arnie Mordkin disagreed, noting that Aspen School District employees, while not Snowmass Village workers per se, serve an important role in the community. Snowmass Village children attend school in the Aspen district.
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“I’m more included to say, those (special district) folks ought to be included, rather than someone who has two people gets to bid on a larger unit. Conceptually, that’s not where we’ve been going,” Mordkin said.
Ranking a certain group of workers opens up a can of worms, countered Councilman John Wilkinson. “You start playing the game, who’s more important than someone else,” he said.
The committee also examined business ownership (rather than individual ownership) of units – a practice housing manager Joe Coffey said would require more oversight and maintenance.
“When you put businesses in with regular [owners], you’re turning what would be a long-term occupied unit into a seasonal unit. That can create problems for the association and the neighbors,” Coffey said.
Future topics to be discussed by the committee include downsizing within the current deed-restricted sales units, income and asset guidelines, capital improvements and more.
The council will listen to other committee recommendations at its Aug. 17 meeting. Councilman Mordkin asked that Town Attorney John Dresser be present for that discussion.