Craig takes steps forward to increase local affordable housing
City officials made three strides forward in efforts to support development of local affordable housing.
There has been an ongoing effort from the city to identify local housing needs and understand what strategies can be used to attract developers and add housing that is critically needed for the local workforce.
On Tuesday, Aug. 23, Craig City Council took action on two items for the Craig Housing Authority and approved a contract for $141,500 with Ayres Associates for housing strategies development.
City Manager Peter Brixius said the project would assist the city in completing a DOLA IHOP planning grant program, which would open up additional incentive funding to directly help housing projects break ground.
According to Ayres representative Mike Scholls, the state had set aside money for planning grants, and a larger pot of money for incentive funds. The state’s approach was to work with communities to adopt qualifying strategies in order to be eligible for the incentive funds.
Craig will be receiving $106,000 in IHOP planning grant funding to pay for a portion of the Ayres contract and the city will contribute an additional $35,500 in matching funds.
“It seems like we need a study just to study something else, I wish we could spend this money to make things happen instead,” said Council member Chris Nichols. “But if it’s the game we have to play, which it looks like it is, then I guess I’m in for it.”
Scholl understood the concerns from City Council, but said Ayres’ focus is on strategy and implementation, and that he would be disappointed if this process didn’t yield actual housing projects.
“You’ve done the assessments and you understand the need for housing in the community, and this is how we can help you achieve more housing units both through looking at regulatory barriers and economic barriers,” Scholl said.
Council member Sean Hovroka said, as an engineer, he can understand why the city would want to spend the money to make sure it doesn’t make mistakes in the future. Taking the wrong path now could easily waste $35,000.
“Each one of these projects we undertake is extensive, and in order to get to the finish line we have to both educate ourselves but also get familiar with the process the government is requiring us to play with them,” said Brixius. “We’ve had two or three projects like that in the time that I’ve been here, and housing is no different. We are having to go through the process here, and we are so close I can taste it.”
According to Brixius, the grant will look at modifications to building and planning codes that would address some of the barriers for small square footage homes, smaller lots, as well infrastructure like sewer lines.
The study is necessary to determine where the city can afford to expand based on the capacity of sewer lines, zoning for live/work uses, and traffic studies that would allow developers to introduce new subdivisions in certain locations.
Craig Housing Authority
In addition to approving this contract, City Council also approved a resolution and an intergovernmental agreement between the City of Craig and the Craig Housing Authority, which establishes how the housing authority will operate under the city’s authority.
One of the recommendations that came out of the housing needs assessment and housing action plan was to get a housing authority in place to work with developers. Housing authorities, which serve a variety of different roles in communities, are a key tool in incentivizing development and in retaining local control over housing growth.
“Realistically, it’s laying out what designations the city is willing to assist the housing authority with while it gets up and running,” said City Attorney Heather Cannon. “Obviously, the goal is that the housing authority would sustain itself, but in the interim there would be some pretty minor support with regard to facilities and staffing, specifically Peter, serving in a kind of director role so everything doesn’t have to come in front of the housing authority board.”
The resolution states that City Council members will serve as ex officio commissioners of the housing authority board of commissioners, and the mayor will serve as the ex officio chairman of the housing authority board.
The intergovernmental agreement specifies that the board has the exclusive authority over how the housing authority will operate. This includes determining the budget, approving partnership and joint venture agreements with third parties, and defining which individuals and households are considered “low-income” which would guide the target population housing projects.
“We have projects that are just waiting for certain things to happen, like the housing authority, and I think we are going to be pleased that we can start to make some progress on the housing restoration project with things like the Cavy, and other projects around town,” Brixius said.
In other business
- City Council approved city staff to begin working on updates to the event permit application, in alignment with the updated state application that broadens the entities that can apply for an event permit in a local park.
- City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance amending a portion of the Craig charter to establish an exemption from the city’s Sales and Use Tax for certain delivery fees and carryout bag fees enacted by the state.
- Brixius reported city staff is working on a task force with Sen. Rankin and trying to set up a meeting with a major utility company to look at the Craig station site as a future opportunity for small modular nuclear activity.
- City staff reported that the Parks Department has drafted a procedure for dedicated memorials within the city, which originated as a request from Ashley Ellis and the Lost Boys to dedicate a memorial for Eli Ellis.
- The City Board of Appeals revoked one contractor’s license for cause after several complaints, and would have revoked another contractor’s license but it was already expired. The building department wanted to remind the public that anytime doing business with a contractor to ask for a copy of their license, workers comp, insurance, and permits.
- Planning and Zoning heard a concept plan from a developer out of Steamboat that is working to purchase some vacant commercial property south of Craig, the developer is looking to develop five acres of industrial and 20 acres of residential. The project could yield anywhere from 91 to 142 residential lots consisting of single family homes and duplexes.
- The Economic Development Council heard a presentation from a media group that is looking to do a 5-6 page story on Craig and what the community is doing for economic development. This media group has done stories about economic development in Windsor and Greeley.
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