Monday, July 8, 2019

Recommendations for affordable housing may include accessory dwelling units, apartments above businesses

Rich Schein, Midway's member on the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission, points to a zoning
map of Midway as Lori Garkovich and City Council Members Logan Nance, left, and Stacy Thurman, right, look on.
Midway has been asked to join Versailles in asking local planning officials to allow accessory dwelling units in residential areas and apartments in commercial zones, and make other changes in the county's zoning ordinance to encourage more affordable housing.

The city's Affordable Housing Committee heard the request Monday from Lori Garkovich, a member of its counterpart committee in Versailles that has already developed recommendations. She said a joint request from both towns to the countywide Planning Commission would "have more traction."

"I think if we went together, it would be more persuasive, and it would be easier to sell to the public," said Garkovich, a retired University of Kentucky sociology professor who has long been active in land-use issues in Woodford County.

The Versailles group also wants other measures, such as a community land trust to lease land to homebuyers, but those will take more time and effort, and allowing accessory dwelling units "was something they could act on right away," Garkovich told the Midway group.

ADUs can be part of a home or detached from it, and can be occupied by renters, adult children, other family members, caregivers and so on. "We had a vision there would be a mix of private homes, townhomes and apartments," to give people a wide range of choices and flexibility when their living arrangements need to change, Garkovich said.

City Council Member Stacy Thurman, chair of the committee, noted that there are many details to work out, such as whether detached units should resemble the main house and whether off-street parking should be required. Before the meeting, Thurman distributed an article from a land-use planner about accessory dwellings, which can be downloaded here.

"I certainly don't think accessory dwelling units are the answer to affordable housing in Midway altogether, but it's a good start," Thurman said. She asked Garkovich what the downside of allowing such units would be.

Garkovich said the usual issue is that people next door to an accessory unit fear it will reduce their property's value, but added that she didn't think that would be a problem in Midway because it has such as small supply of available housing. She said the Versailles plan calls for "quality standards consistent with the neighborhood."

Thurman said, "Most of the people who would be against something like this would be people who don't want Midway to grow at all."

The lack of affordable housing has been a concern in Midway for several years, but gained more currency with the addition of about 300 jobs, and more to come, at the Midway Station industrial Park. Committee member Dan Rosenberg said the city could ask Midway Station employers to provide financial support to affordable-housing efforts.

Garkovich said Midway has a choice: have people commute to the town, work here and leave their payroll taxes behind, or capture their consumer spending and reduce traffic by creating housing for them in the area. "You need economic growth, but how do you want it to happen?"

She said some towns, when expanding their urban service areas for development, require "that a certain inventory of workforce housing" be included in developments in the expanded area.

Rich Schein, a UK geography professor who is the city's representative on the Planning Commission, said the fundamental question facing those who want more affordable housing is how local governments can encourage property sales by owners who aren't now willing to sell.

Garkovich said the two committees might want to have a meeting for property owners, developers, bankers and other citizens to discuss the issue.

The Affordable Housing Committee's next meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at City Hall. Its meetings and all meetings of committees created by the City Council are open to the public.

This story replaces the meeting notice posted this morning.

No comments: