Boulder County proposes affordable housing

John Scarffe, Nederland.  Representatives of the Boulder County Department of Housing & Human Services (BCHA) presented a plan for an affordable housing building to about 25 Nederland residents at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, at the Nederland Community Center. Norrie Boyd, housing division director with BCHA, said the Department is in the very early planning phase of a new housing development in Nederland.

 
They have plans to develop affordable housing in Nederland that would be something owned by the community, so she wanted community input. She asked if the community had an affordable housing crisis, and said she keeps hearing sad stories about those who are having to move out of their communities because of a divorce or being a senior or a kid who is being priced out of the housing market and can’t stay any longer.

 
Boyd said that 53 percent of Boulder County residents are being priced out of homes because of an increase from 2011 to 2016 in median home values. Boulder County costs are outpacing incomes, and more than half of the people in the county are severely cost burdened.

 
On the rental side, 38 percent of County residents are renters, and in Nederland, 37 percent are renters but have a greater demand here, Boyd said. In Nederland, nearly two-thirds of available rentals were built before 1980, and the biggest share were built before 1970.

 
Nederland has an unbalanced market because the majority of the housing supply is unaffordable to most renters. The community also has an increasing demand for housing among older adults with a 60 percent projected growth in the 65 to 74 age group by 2018.

 
Lack of affordable housing is leading to the loss of younger residents. Nederland has a need for at least 60 new rental units by 2018. Boyd said their planned facility would serve working families, people with disabilities and the elderly.

 
The housing would be available to those earning below 60 percent area medium income (AMI). A four-person household at 60 percent AMI earns $56,880, Boyd said. They don’t want people paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

 
Right now, Nederland has 21 units in three different buildings, so BCHA would be excited to build new units that are necessary to keep up with the demand. They already have 276 people on the waiting list for two vacancies per year, Boyd said.

 
BCHA would like to create an inclusive community in Nederland. Many current residents of BCHA housing are employed as health-care workers and in local businesses including Dot’s Diner, Eldora Mountain Ski Resort and the Pioneer Inn.

 
Michael Lambert with BCHA said the housing authority has purchased a piece of ground on Block 27, lots one to ten, west of the Calvary Chapel between Highway 72 and West Third Street. They are proposing a three-story development with 34 new units and 42 parking spaces for people who need homes.

 
The development would have 21 one-bedroom units, 11 two-bedroom units and two three-bedroom units, Lambert said. It would also include a community room, kitchen area, bicycle and ski storage lockers and an outdoor patio.

 
The facility would employ solar technology and would reduce impervious surfaces by utilizing porous materials, Lambert said. It would be built with mountain architecture and a style that reflects Nederland’s character, including façade elements broken down into smaller segments to reduce massing. “It would look just like Salto’s.”

 
A local resident asked for an elevator, and now that has been incorporated. The building would be 35 feet tall and three stories, but would be the same height as the two-story buildings in Nederland today, Lambert said.

 
Boyd said BCHA has three current buildings in Nederland. They tried to make it look less large, facing the state highway and away from neighbors. They moved parking to the west side of the building, it would interact with nearby trails and is across from the RTD parking lot.

 
They also added carports, and minimized the impact on Third Street by ingress and egress onto Highway 72. Lambert said it will have a patio and a flood plain behind the creek that will beautify the area and keep water from backing into the site.

 
The facility also will have two storm water ponds to control water. “This particular community has 53 percent open space,” Lambert said.

 
Boyd discussed the timeline. They will be in the town meeting, predevelopment and design phase until May. Another town meeting took place at the Community Center on March 20, and they will go before the Nederland Planning Commission with a Planned Unit Development application.

 
In March, they will be refining plans, conducting a market study and getting cost estimates. They will be getting funding commitments from lenders until June. They plan to receive the denial or approval for the funding application in September with the financial Close in January 2018. Construction would begin in April 2018 with completion in June 2019.

 
During public input, Atashnaa Werner Medicine Shield, local Housing Task Force founder and housing activist, said that Third Street is already dangerous for our children and asked if the storage units could be outside the building or in the carports so she wouldn’t have to drag winter tires into the building.

 
Boyd said that people didn’t like having storage outside and having to drag their bikes outside. Werner also said she lives in 1,000-square-foot house and can’t imagine having three bedrooms in it. “Why aren’t they comparable to the other buildings like Josephine Commons and Aspinwall?”

 
Boyd said part of that was storage, because residents would have winter skis and boots and need more storage. “We’re trying to make that balance with high-cost square footage in the home, but we can keep looking at floor plans.”

 
Resident and Realtor Wendy Williams announced that she has resigned from the Planning Commission and asked, “What is your level of investment in our public works?” Lambert replied that it’s too early to tell.

 
Resident Mary Jarrell said she lives across the street from the highway, and Third Street crosses the highway.

 

“Making that dangerous left turn onto the highway is not always available to residents because of Aspen season or festivals. The idea that it is going to be a real access point won’t happen.”

 
Lambert said they are already talking to the Colorado Department of Transportation, and Boyd said they have been looking for property for a couple of years. They have worked with Public Works and Town planning staff and have taken Town’s staff perspective.

 
In response to a question about what density is allowed in that area, Nederland Planning and Building Technician Cynthia Bakke said this lot is in neighborhood commercial and is eligible for a density increase. “If you were just considering that lot, that is dependent on square footage.”

 
Resident Kayla Evans asked how long BCHA has been working with Nederland on this project, and Boyd replied for two years. Evans said this is one of the last areas that has a commercial component.

 
“We don’t make enough money to take care of our police and fire,” Evans said. “This is taking away a large area for commercial use. We’re living in a garden. It seems like a waste of space for gardens when we need space for people. A three-story house would not be in keeping with our community. This clearly does not fit into our environment.”

 
At that point, several Nederland residents became angry and resorted to obscenities and shouting to get across their point. Medicine Shield characterized the tone of the meeting as strident.

 
“Those present were particularly concerned that most of the future affordable housing that will be built in Nederland as it in-fills would go to people who are not current or long-time residents. The current BCHA lottery wait list system doesn’t gather information on where people currently live or for how long they have resided there,” Medicine Shield said.

 
Medicine Shield thanked the presenters for coming up here, and said it was her understanding that the meeting was for BCHA to make a presentation on the preliminary site plan design, get comments from the community, modify the design based on those comments, and then bring the design to the Nederland Planning Commission.
For more information on the proposal, go to www.bouldercountyhousing.org.

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