Council takes a stand for housing restrictions
The City of Victor has made a deal with the owners of the 15-year-old concrete foundation on Highway 31, and on March 23 the Victor City Council approved a rezone to enable residential development on an adjacent property, but added a condition that the development’s covenants would prohibit short term rentals.
The property in question is on S 1000 W, north of The Summit town home complex and south of Trail Creek Crossing, the site of an abandoned concrete foundation from 2006 that was intended to be a large commercial development. Teton Land Development applied for a rezone from neighborhood mixed-use and single-family residential to multi-family residential on the parcel in order to develop approximately 23 more town homes as the second phase of The Summit.
In December the planning and zoning commission reviewed the rezone request and, because of the lingering concerns about the foundation and lack of action on it, the commissioners voted almost unanimously to recommend denial of the application.
By the time the matter came to the city council in March, city staff had reached a compromise with developer Gary Schnell and the property ownership group, Trail Creek Crossing LLC.
In a remediation agreement, the owners committed to having the foundation assessed by June 15 of this year and informing the city by June 30 whether the foundation would be removed or developed. The owners will then have until Oct. 31 of this year to either demolish and remove the structure or submit development applications for it.
With that settled, the city council went on to consider the rezone application. Council members Amy Ross and Sue Muncaster asked Schnell if, in light of the housing crisis in Teton Valley, he had any plans to reserve a few of the homes for local workers. Muncaster referenced the new housing needs assessment and pointed out that the first phase of the 31-unit Summit neighborhood seems to be full of vacation rentals and second homes.
Schnell confirmed that only a third or so of the town homes have full-time occupants, but said he has no control over who buys the units once they’re on the market. He added that construction is very expensive right now and that his development group is facing economic challenges in completing large projects across the region.
The council members voiced the same question that Driggs has been wrestling with for the past year: how can the city regulate housing in a consistent fashion rather than asking individual developers to offer up deed restrictions or other mitigations?
“It is really important to me that we make sure this is a conversation that we have very soon. We’re already behind the curve,” Ross said.
Mayor Will Frohlich and planning administrator Kim Kolner cautioned the council against proposing housing regulations to developers this late in the process.
“It’s difficult, especially with active applications where this was never brought up to them in pre-application meetings, never part of the consideration of design...it can be a big shock in a meeting like this to hear that type of request when it was never presented to them throughout the process,” Kolner said.
A rezone is a discretionary approval that often provides additional benefit to a developer through added density, meaning the city has more authority to negotiate for housing incentives.
Schnell said that an apartment complex is planned for the vacant land east of The Summit, and that those units are a more logical place to enact deed restrictions or other forms of housing mitigation.
However, there is no zone change required to develop those apartments, which means the city will have little opportunity to negotiate for affordable or workforce housing there because the entitlements are already in place.
The council members decided to require an additional condition of development: the CC&Rs of the homeowners association in the next phase of The Summit should include a prohibition on short term rentals. Councilwoman Stacy Hulsing voted against that condition, but the four councilors voted unanimously in favor of the rezone.
Per other conditions of approval, the developer will be responsible for constructing a pedestrian pathway along 1000 to Highway 31 and a path within the neighborhood, and providing a public easement along Trail Creek for a future path.