By Ian Lamb & Brian Wheeler
Saturday, June 30, 2012
Albemarle’s Planning Commission is working to improve the way the county can best provide affordable living choices to its residents.
The commission’s recommendations will be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors later this year as it considers changes to the 2005 Affordable Housing Policy and whether to make it part of the updated Comprehensive Plan.
Current policy sets expectations for the development community as to the affordable housing support its members will need to include in a rezoning request. At a minimum, Albemarle expects 15 percent of new homes to be deemed affordable or for the developer to provide an equivalent cash contribution.
“It’s pretty much the developer’s decision,” said Wayne Cilimberg, Albemarle’s director of planning. “They craft the proffers based around what they interpret the policy to be and, in discussions with staff, what we’ve indicated what we could look at.”
Proffers are the voluntary contributions made by a developer to mitigate project impacts and to help gain the support of local officials for a rezoning request. They may include cash, open space, transportation improvements, school sites, but always some contributions toward affordable housing.
Albemarle’s housing director, Ron White, told the commission at a work session earlier this week that recent cash proffers for affordable housing have been used either as down-payment assistance or to repair existing affordable housing units. Since the policy was approved, $476,809 has been received and of that amount, $411,385 has been invested for those purposes.
“If you want to look at a comprehensive affordable housing goal, it’s not just creating new units, but also, in some way, maintaining the existing stock,” White said.