Friday, March 13, 2009

Hailey gives final plat approval to Old Cutters units


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

Five out of the first seven homes built in Old Cutters subdivision will be sold to qualified community housing buyers. Developer John Campbell would like the city to repeal development impact fees associated with the building of these affordable housing units. Photo by David N. Seelig

After successfully renegotiating an annexation fee agreement with the city of Hailey earlier this week, developer John Campbell was granted permission to move forward with sales of the first seven homes built in Old Cutters subdivision east of Hailey

Five of these homes are deed-restricted community housing.

While working out the terms of his new agreement with the city on Monday, the developer sparked discussion among City Council members on the possible repeal of development impact fees for new community housing built in the city.

"It's a good concept," said Councilman Fritz Haemmerle, "We might need to expedite this thing because people are out of jobs."

Campbell said a repeal of development impact fees placed on community housing would provide incentives for their construction because, he said, developers don't make much money building community housing.

Campbell has paid $45,000 in development impact fees to Hailey for the five community housing units soon to come on line in Old Cutters, which will sell for between $179,000 and $279,000.

"When we put these fees in there was no problem (for developers)," Councilman Don Keirn said. "With the economy the way it is now, I see how it could be a problem."

Campbell was granted final plat approval Monday for the first seven homes in Old Cutters, five of which will be sold to qualified community housing buyers listed on the Blaine County Housing Authority's database.

Campbell is requesting that the city allow him to build only workforce housing in the development to satisfy his community housing requirements, in exchange for an accelerated build-out of those units.

Campbell is currently required to 13 income-based housing units and 12 workforce housing units. He said if the city agrees to his request, he will begin building one community housing unit for every two homes built in Old Cutters, rather than the one in five community housing units he is currently required to build.

"The 25 community housing units will be completed when there are 50 homes in Old Cutters, rather than after 125," he said.

Campbell said he could build seven more houses this summer, six of which would be community housing.

"I have five people lined up to buy the units out there right now," Campbell said.

Campbell said in an interview that half of the homes would be built on speculation and that the other half would be pre-sold.

Campbell's request would cause Hailey to change an ordinance that requires that a development designate no more than 50 percent of its community housing as workforce housing.

Kathy Grotto, executive administrator of the Blaine County Housing Authority, said in an interview that developers can make more money on workforce housing because they are free to set the sale price, while her organization sets the price of income-based housing.

"In other parts of the country we have found that workforce housing does not stay affordable," she said.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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