ARU's & Affordable Housing Easement

December 9, 2009

Auxiliary residential Units (ARU's)

 

As you know, I am not in agreement with the elimination of all ARU’s from the Comp. Plan. My thoughts on this are that these units add density in appropriate locations, where homes with infrastructure already exists. They also represent a housing type which functions in many cases as de-facto employee and affordable housing, and may also enable a homeowner to offset the staggering cost associated with homeownership in Teton County. My understanding is that if myself and commissioner Palmer had been in attendance and voted against this proposal it would not have passed jointly. For this reason I intend to call for a revote on this topic, even if procedurally I have to wait until Theme 2 is rewritten and reviewed. This seems to me like a monumental waste of time. The straw pole results on this topic show the county commissioners voting 2-1 in favor, with 2 opposing commissioners absent. If we were able to revote before the rewrite it would save a lot of time, unless the single dissenting county commissioner has changed their mind.

 

Affordable Housing Easement

 

 Instead of eliminating ARU’s altogether, I propose a condition mandating that all ARU’s qualify as category 1-3 affordable housing. In this scenario, a homeowner could sell (or donate) an “Affordable Housing Easement” on their property which would allow the construction of a bona fide affordable housing unit administered by the Housing Authority or Housing Trust. Under the current proposal, I assume that any landowner who now have the right to build an ARU and haven’t done so yet would retain that right as “grandfathered,” so the current proposal would only apply to newly created lots. In the scenario I’m proposing, a homeowner who currently has the right to construct an ARU on their property would have to insure that it meets affordable rental requirements per Housing Authority guidelines and is rented, if they don’t want to grant the easement described above.

 

A scenario such as this would most likely have the same effect as banning ARU’s altogether, reducing the number of potential dwelling units in the county, but there might actually be some instances where a homeowner chooses to grant the easement I describe, and we would wind up with a number of new affordable housing units. Given the overwhelming cost of purchasing property and constructing a home in Teton County, this might be an option people are willing to entertain, and the cost of an easement to the Housing Authority or Housing Trust should be less than a piece of property. In the case of a homeowner facing foreclosure, this might well be the difference between keeping their home and losing it.

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