By Amy Reinholds
The next steps in Summit Housing Group's proposal for affordable rental homes in Lyons Valley Park are applying for multiple types of funding for construction of the homes.

Summit is applying for Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery funds from the U.S. Department of Housing, available at a maximum of $100,000 per rental home, up to $4 million for the proposed total 40 residences. Total funds awarded must be spent by September 2019, and Summit president Rusty Snow has said that there would not be an issue spending those funds on land acquisition and utility connection costs by that time.

The second type of affordable housing funding that Summit is applying for is federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), which gives investors a reduction in their federal tax liability for every dollar they invest in financing to develop affordable rental housing. The investors’ equity contribution subsidizes the development, allowing housing units to rent at below-market rates (required to be 60 percent of area median income or lower).

A deadline for a higher subsidy of LIHTC tax credits to cover 70 percent of the homes in a development (also referred to as “9 percent tax credits”) ended this June, but Summit is applying for the tax credits that cover 30 percent of the rentals in a development (also referred to as “4 percent tax credits”). Lyons Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen said it looked like that application would be submitted by the end of 2018.

This week, both Simonsen and Snow clarified that Summit has finalized a sales and purchase agreement with Keith Bell of Lyons Valley Park Inc. for both Tract A of Filing 8, and 11 single family home lots, in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision. A report on Summit's status at the October 1 Lyons Board of Trustees meeting had caused confusion over whether the land was already purchased.

Summit Housing Group wants to build 12 buildings of duplexes and triplexes (a total of 29 residences) on Lyons Valley Park Tract A of Filing 8, and 11 single family homes on 11 adjacent single family homes lots, all rental homes for people who earn about 40 to 60 percent of the area median income.

Another step is a site plan development review process for building the multi-family homes on Tract A, which is a public process and requires data such as a traffic study. The process begins with a public hearing before the Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission, and later goes to a public hearing before the Lyons Board of Trustees. Nearby homeowners and all community members can submit public comment either in person or in written comments for all the public hearings.

The public also learned at the October 1 meeting of the Lyons Board of Trustees that Summit is working on a site plan review for the public improvements (roads and utilities). Summit is initiating discussions with officials from the Lyons Fire Protection District about roads and public safety access.

The development process for single-family lots is like all others already platted in the subdivision and elsewhere in Lyons, requiring a permitting and development process with the Town of Lyons.

Summit, based in Missoula, MT, is a development company that specializes in low-income tax credit and mixed-use developments. It develops and manages rental properties in six states, including Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado, all which include portions that are affordable to people who make 60 percent of the area median income or less. The latest homes in Colorado are Centennial Park Apartments at 1205 Pace Street in Longmont. The property management site for Summit buildings, www.leasehighland.com, shows what the applications are like for other rentals built by Summit, including the homes in Longmont. People who have questions about how a rental and application process would work in Lyons can review the information at that website.

At a community meeting at the Lyons Middle/Senior High School on September 11, Summit gave updates to the public about a preliminary concept plan for the proposed homes. Snow and Denver-area architect Elizabeth Johnson presented updates and answered questions from neighbors in Lyons Valley Park and the broader community.

Snow gave examples of rents for people who earn 40 percent of the area median income (about $36,000 for a single person or more for a larger household size) as approximately $906 a month for a two bedroom rental home or $1045 a month for a three bedroom rental home, depending on family size. Flood-displaced residents are prioritized for these proposed homes, and Snow said he planned to work with the Lyons Emergency Assistance Fund (LEAF) to reach out to possible future renters. He also said that renters complete applications and re-certify each year (and renters are not forced to leave for modest income increases).

Snow answered a question at that community meeting about whether Summit was seeking discounted or waived utility connect fees, as were given to Habitat for Humanity for the six homes at 112 Park Street. He said that Summit is not requesting discounted or waived utility connection fees (sometimes called "tap fees") from the Town of Lyons for building affordable homes.

At that  September community meeting, the public learned that the density of the proposed 12 multifamily homes are actually less dense than the homes in the Lyons Valley Village co-housing multifamily homes that are already in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision. According to information that Simonsen shared at that meeting, Lyons Valley Village has 18 buildings on two acres, with about 30 total residences. The multifamily units that Summit is proposing are 12 buildings on the four acres of Lyons Valley Park Tract A of Filing 8, with a total of 29 total residences. About 2.9 of those four acres are buildable, which means the remaining space on that Tract A will remain undeveloped. This spring, Summit determined that the Lyons Valley Park subdivision agreement allows for multifamily density on 3.82 acres of Tract A of Filing 8, allowing about 27 to 29 homes (whether built by Summit or any future property owner), but not as many as the 43 that Summit had originally proposed.

Also at that community meeting, Snow and Johnson said that the 12 buildings of duplexes and triplexes would be two stories and not higher than 25 feet, and the 11 single family homes would be one story. They said they were interested in getting a copy of the Lyons Valley Park Homeowners Association (HOA) design guidelines so the buildings match the existing neighbors’ homes. Snow also said he was willing to discuss whether Summit would join the HOA.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 flood-destroyed homes. To get an accurate number of housing stock lost in the September 2013 flood, there are two ways to count. First, according to counts of Town of Lyons water taps/customer accounts, 94 customer accounts were lost after the flood (including the 32 homes in Riverbend Mobile Home Park that were originally part of one water tap). However, some of those customer accounts were on Apple Valley Road (not in town limits), and some lots in town have more than one water tap/customer account. A second way to count is the number of flood-damaged homes in the Town of Lyons lost to both the federal buyout programs and to the changed use of the Riverbend Mobile Home Park property to an event venue (rezoned for commercial use), which totals 76 lost residential units. Federal buyouts totaled 44 units – including all residential units in the Foothills Mobile Home Park – and there were also 32 families who lost homes in the Riverbend Mobile Home Park, which was rezoned as a commercial wedding and lodging venue after the flood.

In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50 to 70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. After that vote, a few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals have been pursued, but Summit’s plan to purchase of the land in Lyons Valley Park is the first step in that building process.

So far, the only post-flood, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112 Park Street where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building three duplexes (a total of six, for-sale homes) on six residential lots. To volunteer or to donate to Habitat for Humanity construction costs in Lyons, go to www.stvrainhabitat.org.

Amy Reinholds served on the Lyons Housing Recovery Task Force from December 2013 through its end in February 2015. She is currently a member of the Lyons Human Services and Aging Commission and served as a liaison to the Special Housing Committee during its existence from April 2015-April 2016. She has lived in Lyons since 2003 and in the surrounding Lyons area since 1995. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers posted on her blog at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact her directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

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