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Originally published: 2014-03-14 11:27:20
Last modified: 2014-03-14 11:27:20

Task force discusses affordable housing incentives

by Anna Oakes

The town of Boone's Affordable Housing Task Force continued discussions Wednesday on methods to develop more housing stock for the local workforce.


The group's monthly meeting took place at the Boone Planning and Inspections Department conference room, located inside the downtown Boone post office.


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.


The group could also recommend the creation of new moderate density residential zoning districts for housing types, such as cottages.


Committee members and town staff noted that the task force previously completed a substantial amount of work on ordinance provisions for cottage-style housing, but that the work was sidelined when the task force began developing the multi-family housing standards that were adopted in early 2013.


Jeff Templeton, a planning commission member newly appointed to the task force, suggested that the town start with a small project and build from there, perhaps with town-owned land, free or low-cost materials donated from area companies, a contractor willing to work for a small profit and seed money from local governments or nonprofits.


Task force members Lynwood Brown and Lynne Mason said that the task force itself could not facilitate such a project, but that it could work to map out a strategy for such projects or work with an organization such as the Watauga County Housing Trust to complete one.


In addition to water allocations and density bonuses, Templeton suggested that flexibility with regard to the town's viewshed, steep slope, retaining wall, tree preservation and green space ordinances be considered as possible incentives for affordable housing developers.


Task force members agreed to seek more specific guidance from the Boone Town Council on which populations -- lower income, moderate income and/or workforce -- to target for affordable housing policies and projects.