Feb. 18, 2013. A week after Watauga County Board of Commissioners Chairman Nathan Miller penned a letter to the Boone Town Council opposing proposed changes to the Town of Boone’s Unified Development Ordinance, the board of commissioners have now drafted a resolution that opposes those proposals. The resolution will likely be adopted at the board’s Tuesday-evening meeting.
The proposed amendments to the UDO, which were recommended by the Affordable Housing Task Force and the Boone Area Planning Commission, are likely to be voted upon by the Boone Town Council at one of its two meetings this week on either Tuesday or Thursday.
The proposed changes limit two unrelated persons within a unit in new developments and mandate a master bedroom (that is 25-percent larger than the other rooms) in every unit that has two or more bedrooms – among other items.
The board of commissioners is particularly concerned about the proposed changes because of the current offer from Templeton Properties on the old Watauga High School property. The offer is still within the 180-day inspection phase, meaning Phil Templeton can back out at anytime.
The property is owned by Watauga County but is located in the Town of Boone. Templeton Properties bid $18.9 million for the 75-acre parcel to build a mixed-use development with student housing. Those changes would make it “difficult, if not impossible,” according to one developer, to build new student housing complexes in town.
Miller said the proposed changes to the UDO will reduce the value of the old Watauga High School property by “roughly $10 million.” As for the “affordable-housing” aspect of these proposals, he said the changes would have the opposite effect by creating a “monopoly” on current student housing developments, which will have far reaching effects out into the county.
He added that if Templeton Properties backs out of the sale, taxes could increase if the revaluation comes in low. Also, he mentioned funds from the sale could be used to pay off debt from the Watauga High School and repair the Watauga County Swim Complex.
“If people want a rec center, this would effectively kill a recreation center,” Miller added. “A whole parade of horribles could be averted if we could sell the property [at $18.9 million].”
Resolution Opposing the Adoption of Supplemental Standards for Multi-Family Housing in the Town of Boone
WHEREAS, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners is committed to ensuring that Watauga County is a vibrant community with ample opportunities for its citizens to work and live within the County; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Boone has enacted zoning regulations governing growth and development of business and housing within the corporate limits of the Town of Boone and within the Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction surrounding the Town of Boone; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Boone has proposed the adoption of Supplementary Standards for Multi-Family Housing Development to be codified as Section 175 of its Unified Development Ordinance; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Boone has a stated goal of encouraging affordable housing within the Town of Boone and believes the cost of housing is too expensive within the Town of Boone; and
WHEREAS, the Supplementary Standards for Multi-Housing Development proposed in the Town of Boone will cause a drastic increase in the costs incurred to construct or operate a multifamily housing unit, especially for small builders and property owners seeking to build duplexes, or three or four unit projects; and
WHEREAS, the recommendations for adoption of these Supplementary Standards for MultiFamily Housing Development were made by the Town Of Boone Affordable Housing Task Force, but will seriously increase the cost of housing and cost of living within the Town of Boone; and
WHEREAS, the Supplementary Standards for Multi-Housing Development will result in urban sprawl and increased highway congestion; and
WHEREAS, the supply of available housing will be outpaced by demand resulting in higher, rather than lower, rents within the Town of Boone and Watauga County; and
WHEREAS, Appalachian State University is a vital part of Watauga County, and the proposed regulations would effectively prohibit students from being able to reside off-campus or in close proximity to the University; and
WHEREAS, multi-family housing units traditionally result in lower rents for those seeking more affordable housing than the purchase or rental of a single family home; and
WHEREAS, many of the citizens within the Town of Boone and Watauga County are unable to afford to rent or purchase a single-family home within the corporate limits of the Town of Boone; and
WHEREAS, Watauga County currently has under contract the old Watauga High School Property for the sum of $18,948,000.00; and
WHEREAS, the old Watauga High School Property is located within the Town of Boone and would be affected by these proposed regulations; and
WHEREAS, if the Town of Boone were to pass these proposed regulations it would most likely result in the purchaser terminating his contract with Watauga County; and
WHEREAS, the enactment of these regulations and the loss of the contract to sell the old Watauga High School Property would cost the citizens and taxpayers of Watauga County at least several million dollars; and
WHEREAS, the failure to complete the sale of the old Watauga High School Property would result in future lost tax revenues for both Watauga County and the Town of Boone; and
WHEREAS, the proposed regulations by the Town of Boone would make it harder for our children and grandchildren to be able to afford to live and work in Watauga County; and
WHEREAS, the proposed regulations from the Town of Boone Affordable Housing Task Force will have the opposite effect of encouraging affordable housing within our community; and
WHEREAS, the proposed regulations from the Town of Boone Affordable Housing Task Force are ill-conceived and will result in detrimental effects upon the Town of Boone, the citizens and residents of its extraterritorial jurisdiction, and the citizens and taxpayers of Watauga County.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Watauga County Board of Commissioners that the Watauga County Board of Commissioners are opposed to the enactment of the Supplementary Standards for Multi-Family Housing Development within the Town of Boone and its Extra-territorial jurisdiction for the reasons set forth above; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Watauga County Board of Commissioners calls upon the Town of Boone to encourage opportunities for our citizens, children, college students, and others to be able to afford to live within the Town of Boone and its Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Watauga County Board of Commissioners formally requests the Town of Boone to vote against the proposed regulations.
ADOPTED this the 19th day of February, 2013.
Nathan A. Miller, Chairman
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board