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City unveils concept for new affordable housing plan

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Roswell city staff have drafted a new plan that would give city property to developers committed to building affordable homes and would discount building and development fees.

Community Development Manager Bill Morris has been presenting information about the plan to various Roswell City Council committees and said he intends to give the information to most, if not all, standing committees before sharing the concept with the entire City Council.

“We really would like to increase and enhance the residential component,” he said during a Legal Committee meeting on Thursday, “especially in the owner-occupied market.”

He said homeowners will stabilize areas and are more likely to “fight” for their properties and neighborhoods to ensure that they are taken care of and safe, which could reduce the need for police or EMS activity in some areas.

He also said that a previous affordable housing study prepared by the city showed that many more lower-priced housing options are needed. The city has taken some steps already. It has prepared land on East Reed Street for organizations or developers interested in building affordable homes, he said, and has developed a section of city code that reduces costs to developers building multi-family units that have a certain density rate.

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Under the new concept, city-owned property would be given to developers making a commitment to building affordable homes, with the city able to claw back the property if development does not occur.

The city also would reduce and streamline permit and development fees, which now can include seven or more different types of fees and amount to several thousands of dollars. With the new plan, the developer of an affordable home might pay only a single fee of $1,000.

“Are we really just focusing on the short-term monies that you collect upfront, that 4,000?” Morris asked. “Or should we be looking at it differently, long-term?”

A typical home will exist for 60 years, he said, and the city would collect money during that time for water, the city portion of property taxes, sewer and trash collection. Also, a family living in a home will spend money in the community, generating gross receipts taxes.

If a plan is implemented, a city staff member would vet and inventory properties and then publicize their availability to the public once the city is ready to release the parcels.

Morris explained that he has not created a detailed plan at this point, but instead was interested in sharing ideas and getting feedback from city councilors first.

The Housing Development Plan is scheduled to be discussed at an Infrastructure Committee meeting on Monday and a General Services Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.