making affordable housing mandatory
Express Staff Writer
County Planning and Zoning Commission last week said that it may consider
making affordable housing a required part of future subdivisions.
years, county planners have struggled to draft an ordinance that would
give real estate developers an incentive to build affordable housing on
their own. The incentive: Developers could build at a higher density than
current zoning allows, if the prices of some of that housing remains
P&Z has had difficulty balancing county needs with the needs of
developers. If the county places too many restrictions on developers in
the name of good planning, developers might not be enticed to voluntarily
build affordable housing.
commissioner Judy Harrison, for example, wants developers to buy
development rights for affordable housing under a complicated system of
Transferable Development Rights that the county has not yet perfected.
TDRs could scare developers away from affordable housing.
meeting Thursday night, the P&Z hit upon an idea that could help the
county get what it wants.
are we avoiding mandatory" housing?, asked Chairwoman Suzanne Orb,
broaching a question that could drastically change the county’s approach
to the issue.
would be supportive of both mandatory and non-mandatory," said Gates
Kellett, director of the Blaine County Housing Authority, which promotes
housing for low- and middle-income residents.
scenario the P&Z considered could involve making construction of
affordable housing mandatory near Ketchum, where the need is greatest, and
making it non-mandatory farther south.
combined with a system allowing developers to pay the housing authority a
fee in lieu of actually building the housing, could generate money for the
housing authority, Kellett said. The housing authority could use the money
for its own projects.
is a long way from completing the proposed housing ordinance, and would
need to work out the details of a mandatory affordable housing rule, if it
decided to create one. The P&Z is scheduled to meet today at 4 p.m. to
discuss the proposed ordinance at the Old County Courthouse.
could create an affordable housing rule by changing its existing
subdivision ordinance, rather than writing a new ordinance.
Saunders, representing the Blaine County Citizens for Smart Growth
advocacy group, praised Orb and Harrison for being "courageous"
enough to suggest a mandatory housing rule.
has been criticized for moving too slowly on the proposed ordinance and
even of sabotaging it by making it too complex.
disputed that criticism. The P&Z has "moved through" the
four drafts of the ordinance in a way meant to improve them, not thwart
them, she said.
the ordinance has gotten better every time we’ve gone through it,"