Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hailey contemplates plan for community housing

City faces complex management, development questions


By JON DUVAL
Express Staff Writer

SUSAN McBRYANT

Hailey is no different from its neighboring cities when it comes to dealing with the convoluted issue of community housing.

At its meeting on Monday, May 21, the Hailey City Council discussed the management and development of affordable housing units.

City Attorney Ned Williamson said the issue carries with it complex socioeconomic implications. He presenting different options the city could follow.

Regarding management, Williamson offered the examples of deed restriction based on income and the "Telluride model," in which housing eligibility is dependent on the applicant's residency and place of employment, among a number of other conditions determined by the city.

As well, the city will have to decide whom its wants to manage its properties, Williamson said.

Previously, Hailey had a contract for services with the Blaine County Housing Authority, but Williamson said the city needs to take a more proactive role in creating guidelines for affordable housing policies.

Alternatively, he said, the city could contract with another nonprofit organization, such as ARCH, or a private property management firm, or even create its own housing authority.

Williamson also raised the question of how the units will be developed.

Suggested possibilities included giving land to a housing authority or contracting with a private developer.

Hailey City Planner Diane Shay used the Woodside Elementary School project, in which the school district gave the city two units to be used as affordable housing, as an example of the need for some strict guidelines.

"I'm uncomfortable because the council has never discussed this formally," said Shay, explaining that she has attended a number of meetings with the school district and the Blaine-Ketchum Housing Authority, but the process has become frustrating due to the complexity of the issues.

Mike Roos, a BKHA board member, agreed with Shay, saying the transaction is taking a lot of time because it includes the proposed Peregrine Ranch development—north of Hailey in Blaine County—as well as the city and school district. However, he said, he didn't want that experience to sour the council's attitude toward the BKHA for future projects.

Mayor Susan McBryant said the city needs to decide on a specific policy quickly and asked for a committee to be put together to look into the alternatives presented at the meeting. However, no action was taken on McBryant's request during the meeting.




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