Farmington looks for ways to develop more affordable housingSep 02, 2021 10:45AM ● By Wayne Kartchner
The average price for homes sold in Farmington since March 2020 is $802,397 making it difficult for families to buy a home in the city. Photo by Wayne Kartchner
With housing prices skyrocketing, Farmington is trying to find options to provide more affordable housing in the city. On Aug. 3, the City Council passed an amendment to the zoning ordinance to help with that.
“Our attitude (toward affordable housing) should be in our back yard,” said City Council member Shawn Beus. “We need workers living in our community.”
If a developer sets aside open space or creates trails, the city will allow the developer to develop on smaller lots. Now the developer also has the additional option of setting aside some of the units as Moderate Income Housing (MIH) or paying the city a fee in lieu that will be used for MIH.
“The area available to build new single-family homes in Farmington is dwindling quickly,” said, Mayor Jim Talbot. “We need to act now.”
In 2019, the state required each city to submit a plan to provide for moderate-income housing. If the deadline to submit the plan was missed the state would withhold transportation funds. The state provided 23 items to be implemented and Farmington must implement four of the items because it has a FrontRunner station. “We were implementing nine of the items prior to this ordinance and now this makes 10,” said Community Development Director David E. Petersen.
Moderate income housing is defined as “housing occupied or reserved for occupancy by households with a gross household income equal to or less than 80% of the Average Median Income (AMI) for households of the same size in the county in which the city is located.” For Farmington, the 80% figure is an income of $74,640.
“If the developer sets aside a portion of the development as affordable housing, the deed restriction is recorded against the parcel number with the county recorder, and it will run with the land even if the original owner sells it,” said Planning Commission member Greg Wall.
“That way the affordable housing units set aside by the developer will always be affordable housing units.”
Petersen said that under the new ordinance a developer with the right to develop 15 lots on 20,000 square foot lots could agree to put two homes into moderate-income housing or pay a $412,000 fee in lieu and get the rights to develop 12 additional lots.
For apartments or multifamily properties if 10% of the units are set aside for affordable housing the developer may be given the right to build more floors or some other consideration. These apartments may be rented to families earning 60% of AMI and the families could receive rent assistance.
“Because of the consideration given to the developers by the city the developers are pleased with this arrangement and the flexibility of the ordinance,” said Petersen.
“Farmington is not affordable,” said City Council member Amy Shumway. “I’m glad that developers have gotten on board.”
The average price for homes sold in Farmington since March 2020 is $802,397. This is out of reach for someone making $74,640. The MIH home price needs to be $390,000. The difference is $412,397 for a single-family home, which Peterson said gave him sticker shock.
“Some people have told me that ‘We don’t want low-income housing in Farmington,’” said City Council member Scott Isaacson. “What they don’t realize is that Moderate Income Housing is housing for teachers, firefighters, policemen. We need these people to be able to have a place to live. [Affordable housing] should be everybody’s problem.”