Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. No one doubts there is a need for low-cost housing in Nederland. Last week, the Boulder County Housing Authority went before the Nederland Planning Board proposing a three-story, 36-unit, very low cost project to be constructed in the empty lot across from the RTD parking lot and next to the Calvary Chapel.
BCHA Michael Lambert and Norrie Boyd gave a presentation to the planning board in a public hearing during the regular board meeting for preliminary approval of a low cost, work force PUD.
Lambert cited that BC has three other affordable housing units in Nederland, but that there were 118 people on the waiting list, with a possibility of two openings a year.
“We are seeking Nederland’s help in creating an inclusive community rich in tradition and history,” Lambert said, explaining that the site would encourage non-vehicle use, would include pedestrian sidewalks, connection to the town pedestrian trail and parking slots behind the project.
The buildings would be 39 feet high, contain 48 parking places and would require vacating two roadways that border the property on the north and south side. A two-bedroom unit would be 787 square feet and a one-bedroom unit would be 523 square feet.
The proposed project would begin construction in April of 2018 and be completed by June of 2019.
Before construction begins a state tax credit timeline has to be met, with submission for the permit by June of 2017 to receive funding commitments.
Boulder County purchased the property in December. The parcel contains 10 lots and building on the site would fulfill the Envision Nederland 2020 goal of infilling Nederland’s vacant pieces of land.
After the presentation, the hearing was open to public comment with the intent of gathering neighbor’s concerns and desires and starting the PUD process. About 25 people attended the meeting.
The first person to speak was resident Leonard Kottenstette who advised the board and the Boulder County representatives that he had not received notification of the hearing.
“But I think it’s a great idea. However, I would rethink the community garden. We have only a 60-day growing season. I would also like to see the building place closer to Third Street.”
Tom Neal spoke for Calvary Chapel, the closest neighbors to the south of the lot where parking is reserved for church members. Neal wanted to make sure that the church’s part of the roadway is preserved for parking. Neal said that when the library was built on the other side of the church, they had given the road right of way to be used for library parking.
At that time, the north roadway was paved for Calvary parking, to keep people from parking on the highway, which had become a safety issue.
“If we lose the parking on the north side, we would have to take back the parking on the south side. But it all looks good at this point.”
Planning commission chair Roger Cornell said he hoped the entities could reach an agreement about how the right of way would be shared seeing how they are both claiming it. “This is what we do at preliminary presentations.”
Later Calvary Chapel pastor Doug Gibney said that they would share the right of way, half and half with the county.
Kristi Bennedetti, a local resident who represents the Emergency Family Assistance Association, said she is so excited about the project, which has been needed for a long time. “I really want a crosswalk from the housing to the RTD. I have had to stop and let people cross at that area. I would like to see some designated senior units and maybe a couple of three-bedroom units.”
Planning commissioner Greg Guevara told the BC representatives that the units are not adequately sized. “We all have stuff and these one-bedroom units are too small.” Lambert told him that there is a storage space for each unit in the center of the complex, but Guevara said he would still like to see larger units.
Planning Commission Vice-Chairman Steve Williams said he was on the fence about the project but that he would definitely like to see a 30-unit structure rather than a 36-unit structure. He was told the 36-units would be $40,000 per unit cheaper than the 30-unit proposal.
Williams also questioned the ability of the Town Public Works Department to serve a building of this size and was informed that it would be a burden to the town but that the town infrastructure could handle it.
Commissioner Jesse Seavers said he walks along that property with his daughter. “It is a great project, I love what you’ve got in mind for affordable housing. I have been gardening up here for seven years and I know it can be done. I will support the community gardens.”
Local realtor and planning commissioner Tim Duggan was inclined to support a 30-unit proposal rather than a 36-unit, in order to be more sensitive to the neighbors.
The project would contain more people than live on Third Street or in the Indian Peaks subdivision said Roger Cornell.
The BC representatives and the planning commission agreed that the wetlands from the creek would have to be addressed. The anticipated population of the development would come from people already living in town needing a place to rent, or employees who live out of town.
Pets will be allowed with a limited number and size and will be subject to strict rules.
These are the questions and opinions that Lambert was looking for at this preliminary stage.
It was back to the drawing board for BCHA, who were instructed to come up with plans for a 30-unit development and larger unit sizes.
The next presentation will be at the planning commission meeting on March 22, 2017.