Group to target areas for affordable housing
by Anna Oakes
The town of Boone's Affordable Housing Task Force on Wednesday began a process of identifying sites in the town limits and extraterritorial jurisdiction that could be suitable for affordable housing.
Task force members asked Boone Planning & Inspections staff to develop three GIS maps highlighting properties valued at $250,000 or less, $150,000 or less and $50,000 or less, including sites with vacant buildings, if possible. The task force will then work to establish a value "threshold" at which to identify locations that could be developed or redeveloped with affordable or workforce housing.
The group could also recommend the creation of new moderate-density residential zoning districts for housing types such as cottages.
"Cottage housing, even if we ended up with a community of eight or 10, would be a start," said Lynne Mason, a Boone Town Council member who sits on the task force.
The Boone Town Council in July authorized the task force to identify individual properties that might be suitable for redevelopment or development as affordable or workforce housing and to study, identify and recommend incentive mechanisms for development of affordable and workforce housing, including preferential treatment for water allocations and density bonuses.
Mason said she recently met a number of people with experience in workforce housing development -- one has worked in Chapel Hill -- who might be willing to share their experience and advice with the task force.
Earlier this year, a housing study commissioned by the town concluded that Boone has a current student housing surplus between 1,200 and 2,500, with that number expected to grow as more approved projects come online.
The task force's last recommendation, presented in December 2012 and adopted by the town council in February, established new standards for all new multi-family housing built in Boone requiring features thought to be more suitable for families. Several developers opposed the standards, saying they would only increase costs.
The next meeting of the Affordable Housing Task Force is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the Planning & Inspections Department conference room, located inside the downtown Boone post office building.