Affordable housing clears hurdle | RecordCourier.com
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Affordable housing clears hurdle

by Sharon Carter

A revised plan, which incorporates the stymied five-acre, 40-unit Crestmore Village affordable housing project into a proposed 50-acre planned community which adjoins it, cleared its first hurdle Thursday when the Gardnerville Town Board unanimously voted to recommend its approval to Douglas County commissioners.

Earlier this year, the town’s opposition to Crestmore likely contributed to a unanimous decision by commissioners which denied the Crestmore project a needed multi-family zoning overlay.

At a special meeting two weeks ago, Gardnerville officials were approached by Oakwood developer Bob Lomas of the Affordable Housing Group of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and Crestmore developer Chris New of Picerne Development, who asked them what concessions would get the town to endorse the projects.

Concerns. Town board members enumerated concerns residents of the south Gardnerville neighborhood had with the proposals and added some of their own. Elges Lane residents had feared the project would worsen a bad traffic situation on their street and lower their property values by surrounding their homes with apartments.

The town board members took issue with Oakwood’s proposed average 6,000 square-foot single-family home lot sizes, saying such lots were too small. They directed town engineer Andy Burnham to work with Oakwood engineer Keith Ruben to increase and vary the development’s lot sizes, even though adding to residential lot space would reduce county required community open space.

The plan Ruben, who also represents Crestmore, and the town’s engineers brought back for the town’s approval incorporated the suggestions.

Compromise. The Oakwood Homes development had originally planned a total of 254 units, incorporating a gradual transition of densities in its design – 142 single family homes would lead into 72 townhomes, and the townhomes would abut 40 apartments, with some of the homes qualifying as affordable housing.

Of the two options presented to the town, the board members liked best was a “neo-traditional” design inspired by the town of Minden – 132 single family homes on lots of various sizes would surround a one-acre park. It would mean a net loss of 10 homes to Oakwood.

Crestmore, by sharing drainage with Oakwood, would create 12,000-square-foot, single-family city lots across from existing residences on Elges.

To resolve the traffic issues, through traffic on Elges would be eliminated by making it a cul-de-sac in the first phase of the development. Access for both Crestmore Village and Oakwood residents would be from a developer-built Waterloo Lane extension from Highway 395. The Waterloo extension would ultimately connect to Toler Lane.

Acceptance. As well as approving the compromise plan, the town board recommended that planning commissioners waive the county’s open space requirement when they hear Oakwood’s request Oct. 13, and that county commissioners also waive the requirement when they hear it Nov. 5.

Gardnerville town board chairman Tom Cook said the compromise was “something we can live with and deal with.

“We still have traffic concerns, we want that cul-de-sac put in early in the project’s development so those residents don’t have to deal with construction traffic,” Cook said.

Jerry Smith, who had formerly vigorously opposed the project, said he saw the compromise as a happy medium.

“It’s a worthy project that (now) meets the needs of the community and the developer,” Smith said.

Of the Elges residents who had initially protested the Crestmore project, only Mable Havens, 85, said she was dissatisfied with the compromise.

“I don’t believe we need this (development) right now,” Havens said. “I don’t know where all these people are going to come from.”

Next steps. If the combined development is approved by county planners, a lawsuit scheduled to be argued before Douglas District Judge David R. Gamble on Oct. 27 could be postponed. And if it is subsequently approved by county commissioners, the lawsuit and a federal Fair Housing complaint, also brought by Picerne against the county, could be withdrawn.

The compromise plan, Rubens said, was acceptable to both sides.

Bob Lomas, who had planned to attend Thursday’s meeting, was grounded by bad weather at the Colorado Springs airport. But Picerne’s New, along with Carson Valley real estate broker Garry Leiss, Landmark Homes officials Larry Walsh and Bryan Mahoney and Ruben were in attendance.

Crestmore, which was awarded federal income tax credits by the Internal Revenue Service, must meet strict time lines and have the complex built and occupied by Dec. 31, 1999.

New said he was pushing to get an agreement with the county in place and get the project under way.

“We’ll have to redo the engineering because the site has changed,” New said. “If things go as we hope, we’re still in good shape. But we’ll need to get started by April, at the latest.”

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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