Part of Re-1 housing to be set aside for Carbondale teachers |

Part of Re-1 housing to be set aside for Carbondale teachers

CARBONDALE – A quarter of the affordable housing units in each phase of the Roaring Fork School District Re-1’s teacher housing development would be reserved for teachers and district staff working or living in Carbondale at the time units are made available for sale or rent.

The concession to give some degree of priority to school district employees already based in Carbondale helped to justify a tentative agreement by Carbondale trustees to waive about $920,000 in various development impact fees and use taxes associated with the 96 affordable housing units.

Trustees voted 6-1 Tuesday night to close the public hearing and move toward final approval the proposed 120-unit “CES Partnership Village” project. An April 20 meeting was set for consideration of legal documents granting approval to the landmark affordable housing project.

Deed-restricted affordable housing units would account for 80 percent of project, intended primarily to assist Re-1 in being able to hire and retain teachers for schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

If Carbondale’s affordable housing guidelines were applied to a 120-unit project, 20 percent, or 24 units, would need to be deed-restricted affordable units. Another 19 would require an R.O. (resident-owner occupied) restriction, Carbondale planning director Doug Dotson noted.

“This proposal far exceeds the level of deed restricted affordable housing normally required,” he said in his staff report to the town board for Tuesday’s meeting. “Staff believes this will be a good project for this community and help the district retain qualified teachers and employees.”

Town trustees agreed.

“This is the first opportunity we’ve had to have what I would define as real affordable housing,” Trustee Ed Cortez said.

Although some fees would be waived for the affordable housing units, about $492,000 in fees and taxes would still be paid on the 22 market rate units.

Another $737,000 in enterprise fund fees for such things as water and sewer infrastructure, as well as water rights dedication fees, would also still be paid on the affordable units, as would about $146,000 in traffic impact fees.

And, it will be up to the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District whether to waive any of the estimated $87,000 in fire district impact fees.

The fee waivers are viewed as the town’s investment in a project that would also give second-tier priority for affordable units to town employees, including police officers.

The project is to be built on approximately 11 acres of the former Carbondale elementary/middle school campus, located between Third Street and Weant Boulevard. Zoning had already been approved to allow up to 89 units.

The school district sought an amendment to increase that number to 120 units in order to make the project more financially feasible. It would also allow zoning for the Garfield County Public Library District to purchase a section of the school district property at the corner of Sopris Avenue and Third Street for a new Carbondale branch library.

Although the school district had reservations about giving priority for the housing to Carbondale teachers, it agreed to set aside 25 percent of the affordable housing units in each of the three phases of development. That number came from the fact that 25 percent of the district’s 655 employees work in Carbondale.

The largest fee that would be waived would be $496,000 worth of sales and use taxes associated with the affordable housing units. Other significant impact fees that would be waived would be approximately $147,500 in building permit and plan check fees, as well as $134,000 in transportation impact fees.

The project would still generate about $200,000 in traffic impact fees, which would be enough to install a southbound left turn lane onto Highway 133.

However, the town may use that money to help pay for a proposed roundabout at Highway 133 and Weant Boulevard, if the town is ready to move forward with that project at the time the left-turn lane would be needed.

The school district agreed at Tuesday’s meeting to dedicate a right of way to extend Capitol Avenue through the district property to the future roundabout, but only when or if it proves feasible to move forward with the second phase of the development.

The district must also develop housing guidelines regarding income and occupancy restrictions and other parameters to qualify buyers or renters for the deed-restricted units.

Trustee Pam Zentmyer, who voted against proceeding to final consideration of the project, wanted to see the housing guidelines before agreeing to any fee waivers for the project.

“If we’re subsidizing affordable housing, I want to understand what the structure of that affordable housing is,” she said.

Chuck Perry, the Denver-based land-use planner working with the school district on the project, said construction could begin as soon as spring of 2011.

“We would like to start next spring, but we do have to do some more market analysis to determine if there is going to be a demand,” Perry said. “As you know, this is a very odd time in the market.”

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