New guidelines could boost housing supply
New laws aimed at encouraging builders to develop more affordable places to live in the Snyderville Basin could require a portion of all new housing projects contain units for workers with lower incomes.
"Twenty percent is intended to mitigate the employees generated by the new development," according to Summit County planner Kimber Gabryszak.
Requirements the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission is debating would mean commercial developers must provide housing for at least 20 percent of the employees the project is expected to create.
But "there would also be incentives," Gabryszak said.
"It is proposed that an overlay zone be created, wherein new development and redevelopment may receive increased densities in exchange for the voluntary provision of additional affordable housing," a report explaining the new rules states.
By providing more affordable units builders could increase the number of market-rate units in their developments, she said, adding that, "it’s very expensive for a developer to provide an affordable unit."
With the new regulation, planners expect developers to submit applications for "some pretty dense developments," Gabryszak told the Planning Commission.
"You could see a 30-acre parcel with 30 units on it, or 60 units," she said.
The Snyderville Basin Development Code currently caps rural residential zoning at one unit per 20 acres.
But the new set of affordable-housing guidelines must "be beneficial enough that it’s going to be used," Gabryszak said, adding that planners weren’t out to provide developers a density windfall.
Planning Commissioner Kathy Kinsman asked if those who occupy restricted affordable housing in the Basin could be required to work in the county.
"It’s been successfully done in many communities across the county," responded Phyllis Robinson, who handles affordable housing issues for Summit County.
The annual median income in western Summit County is more than $81,000, which makes it difficult to build houses suitable for households with incomes less the $60,000.
"This is huge and we applaud it," said Alain Balmanno, an attorney who has sued the county in federal court claiming not enough affordable housing exists in the area.
Locating such projects within a half-mile of mass transit makes sense, he said.
According to Mountainlands Community Housing Trust chief Scott Loomis, county officials should target households earning around 50 percent of the area’s median income when developing affordable rental units.
Neither of the three ski resorts in Summit County is involved in the county’s new housing program.
Planners estimate that by requiring developers to supply housing, 250 new affordable units could be created in the Snyderville Basin by 2011. But during the next five years more the 660 affordable units could be necessary with only 156 slated for construction.
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Promontory’s latest employee housing application was for seven 450-square-foot studio apartments. When they’re built, it will bring the total employee housing built on-site to 9 units and leave a 73-bedroom requirement.