A win for work-force housing
July 22, 2008
The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission has approved a set of rules meant to increase the number of affordable homes in western Summit County.
The incentives allow builders to construct bigger neighborhoods in exchange for building affordable units.
Builders who agree to provide about half the overall number of units in their subdivisions as additional work force housing, could increase the value of their projects with more density.
But critics say the incentives could bring with them traffic, crime and undesirable neighbors.
"I can’t imagine allowing the Nadine Gillmor property right next door to have twice the density that currently exists in my neighborhood," Silver Summit resident Christian Hague said about a roughly 300-acre parcel Gillmor controls near Silver Summit Parkway.
Denser subdivisions will unfairly impact existing neighborhoods, ParkWest resident Art Brothers said.
Recommended Stories For You
"It doesn’t make sense for property owners who are next to it," Brothers told members of the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission at a public hearing this month. "I can’t imagine that kind of density."
Too often those with lower incomes who qualify to buy deed-restricted affordable units eventually rent their homes at market rate to recoup their investment, Brothers charged.
"It will be difficult to maintain without having somebody in there doing it," Brothers said about the need for Summit County to police such units to ensure the restrictions on the property are adhered to.
A policy enacted last year requires developers build an additional 20 percent of the overall new development for people earning around 80 percent of the area median annual income of about $82,000. The rules are similar to guidelines used in Sun Valley, Idaho, Cambridge, Mass. and Boulder, Colo.
But new units help address only future housing impacts, Summit County planner Kimber Gabryszak explained.
Meanwhile, Deer Valley Resort Vice President Bob Wells stressed that affordable housing is needed in Park City for seasonal resort workers.
The average hourly wage earned in western Summit County in 2005 was reportedly less than $9. A median-priced house in western Summit County last December sold for almost $1.3 million, according to sales figures.