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City OKs housing development reimbursement program

Some of the Roswell City Council members attending a Tuesday special meeting listen to staff presentations about agenda items, including a program to reimburse housing developers for some of the costs of the municipal infrastructure they build. From left are Jeanine Corn Best, Angela Moore, Jason Perry and Savino Sanchez. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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A housing development reimbursement program has been adopted by the Roswell City Council and is intended to help prompt more home building in the area.

Roswell City Councilors voted 9-0 on Tuesday night at a meeting in the fire station near the Roswell airport to approve a revised version of a resolution creating the Municipal Infrastructure Reimbursement Program. City Councilor Margaret Kennard did not attend the meeting.

The program does not subsidize builders but offsets costs for building required infrastructure that will be turned over to the city after completion.

“We need to develop a system where we can prime the pump just a little bit and go ahead and get that development moving forward,” Community Development Director Kevin Maevers said when he first introduced the program at a Sept. 23 Legal Committee meeting.

In that meeting and a later city council meeting, city councilors had asked many questions about the program. But in Tuesday’s meeting, they talked primarily about text changes that had been made in the resolution since previous meetings, voting to amend a substitute resolution and then adopt the substituted version.

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Based on a concept that has been used in Hobbs since August 2017, the local program will reimburse developers for some of the costs of installing water and sewer lines, streets and sidewalks that would become city property once a development is complete. Each development agreement would have to be approved by the city council.

The reimbursement will occur only after the project has been completed, the infrastructure dedicated to the city and approved by city officials, and all housing units within the project issued certificates of occupancy. Current projects with approved development agreements could qualify until March 31, 2022 if they have yet to construct infrastructure or receive certificates of occupancy.

The Legal Committee recommended with a vote of 3-0 that the entire city council consider the program. The city council decided at its Oct. 14 meeting to postpone its decision until questions about the text had been clarified.

During the Oct. 14 meeting, three developers and a local economic development professional spoke about the program. Three supported its implementation, but a man who said he had developed a southside housing development years earlier said he opposed it. He said he thought the city was choosing winners and losers by implementing a program where only some developers will qualify for reimbursements.

The city has not yet indicated how much funding it will allocate for the program. The amount of reimbursement would depend on the square footage of the livable space of the project and the amount of infrastructure installed, with a higher reimbursement rate available for projects south of Second Street to encourage housing in the south part of the city. The maximum reimbursements would be $10,000 per single-family unit and $5,000 per multifamily unit. A $200,000 cap per project has been established.

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

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.