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Boone Planning Commission Approves Affordable Housing Task Force Proposal in Split Decision, 6-3

By Paul T. Choate

Feb. 12, 2013. On Monday, the Boone Planning Commission voted 6-3 to approve recommendation to Town Council for a proposal that the current Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) should be amended to encourage more development of family oriented, workforce housing.

The proposal was submitted by the Affordable Housing Task Force on Feb. 2. If approved by Town Council, it would allow for no more than two unrelated persons to live within a unit in new developments. Additionally, in every unit with two or more bedrooms, a “master suite” bedroom that is at least 25 percent larger than the other bedroom(s) would be mandated. Other changes would be putting a limit on bedroom-to-bathroom rations and limiting parking spaces to two per unit.

Some concern was expressed during last night’s meeting regarding how the approval would allow for more affordable housing.

“This isn’t an affordability issue. This does not translate to affordable housing to me in my mind,” Planning Commissioner Eric Woolridge said.

Planning Commissioner Greg Simmons also said he did not see how the proposal would make housing more affordable in town. He argued that the proposal didn’t have anything to do with affordable housing, but said it had to do with family housing, saying the two are completely different issues.

“This effort has gone on so long it’s easy to understand how the mission might go through some changes,” Simmons said.

Planning Commissioner Cameron Lippard, who is also on the Affordable Housing Task Force, admitted that the proposal probably needed some “tweaks,” but said steps must be taken to preserve some segments of town for affordable, workforce-oriented housing.

Despite some dissent, Planning Commissioner Thomas Purpur introduced a motion to recommend approval of the proposal to Town Council, saying it provided for the preservation of certain types of housing and because it provided a vision of where the town wants to go.

The motion passed 6-3, with Susan McCracken, Simmons and Woolridge opposed.

Planning Commissioner Donald Dotson then introduced a motion for the rationale, saying it should be approved based on the fact that it is consistent with the town’s planned growth and that it begins a process of segmenting property for this type of housing.

The motion passed 5-4.

Following approval to council, McCracken motioned that the proposal, if passed through Council, should be reviewed in a “reasonable amount of time” to see if it is accomplishing what it was meant to. This motion also passed.

The Boone Town Council will decide whether or not to approve the amendment at their Feb. 19 or 21 meeting.

To read more on the proposal, visit https://www.hcpress.com/real-estate-2/affordable-housing-task-force-requests-udo-amendment-looking-at-all-possible-scenarios-for-workforce-housing.html.