Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Project will boost local affordable housing

County-owned land will be deeded to ARCH Community Housing Trust under deal

The wheels have been set in motion on a unique affordable housing project in Hailey that will soon provide two homes for Blaine County employees.

On Tuesday, the Blaine County Commission met with representatives from the ARCH Community Housing Trust to discuss the project. As early as this fall, builders could begin work on two homes on county-owned land.

"This is a great new project," said Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen.

Through a several-step transfer involving the county, the Idaho Housing and Finance Association and ARCH, the housing trust will eventually take ownership of the county land. The property is on Walnut Street next to the Wood River Trails bike path.

Because Idaho law doesn't allow the county to deed the land directly to a nonprofit organization like ARCH, the land will instead be deeded to the state housing and finance association. Under the deal, the housing and finance association will then deed the land to the housing trust, county officials say.

The deal requires the land to be used specifically for affordable housing for county employees. If the use changes in the future, the land will revert back to the county.

County officials and ARCH were recently able to broker a separate but crucial deal that will allow the affordable housing project to go forward. Because the county-owned lot is not large enough under Hailey zoning to permit construction of two homes, officials were considering placing a single house and an accessory dwelling unit on the land instead.

However, an Idaho-based company that owns land next to the county parcel has agreed to donate part of its property to allow the project to proceed in full. That company—fiber optics provider Syringa Networks—will deed a 15-foot section so the combined parcels are big enough for two homes.

As is the case with the county property, Syringa Networks will deed the land to the housing and finance association. From there, the parcels will be combined into a two-lot replatting application to the city of Hailey.

An appreciative Schoen thanked the company and its CEO, Greg Lowe, for the generous donation.

"This is a significant contribution to the community," he said.

Jason Kauffman:

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