Friday, January 26, 2007

Town of Blue River Opts Out

Contrary to the countywide solidarity shown in getting the affordable housing initiative passed by voters in November, the Town of Blue River has decided to opt out of the program.

The decision by Blue River’s town board won’t have a significant effect on the amount of money to be collected under the sales tax increase and new development impact fees, said housing authority director Bonnie Osborn.

“We didn’t expect to get any money from Blue River or Montezuma,” Osborn said. “No one seems to be upset about their decision,” she said, explaining that the ballot language gives individual towns the choice of whether they want to participate.

The decision not to participate was based on the town’s small size and the fact that Blue River is nearly built out, said Mayor Lindsay Backas, estimating that there are about 680 residential units in Blue River, with only about 22 lots still available for development.

“We’re just different. We’re totally residential. Blue River is almost built out … and our housing is somewhat affordable anyway,” Backas said.

County attorney Jeff Huntley said local towns all agreed up-front that the inter-governmental agreement on the housing authority would provide for flexibility in the way the impact fees are collected and administered. So, unlikely as it is, any of the other towns in the county could also decide not to impose impact fees, although the countywide sales tax increase of .125 percent is not optional, Huntley said.

In contrast to Blue River, Montezuma will participate in the affordable housing program, charging the graduated per-square-foot impact fee on new residential developments. Summit County will collect and administer the fees generated by any new construction in that town, Osborn said.

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