At the regular Board meeting of the Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA), Executive Director Ashley Kappel presented a draft budget for 2024, noting that certain line items, such as insurance and legal services, were set to go up significantly as a result of the CHA’s pending separation from Chaffee County and setting up as an independent entity.
Kappel also led discussion of revisions to the CHA’s Strategic Plan, and presented a tandem “Continuum of Care” document showing what projects are current, and what projects might be possible with more funding.
Board votes included motions to pass resolutions updating CHA bylaws and approving the 2024 insurance policy quote, as well as new members for the CHA Board. Vice-Chairman Jeff Eaton reported that Rob Gartzman had submitted his resignation from the Board because of a potential conflict of interest with a development project.
“We had eight candidates and scheduled six interviews for an open seat and an at-large alternate seat,” said Eaton. He recommended Chris Ledger for the at-large alternate seat, saying that Ledger lives in Salida, is a renter, and has his own company doing housing inspections. He also recommended Angela Mokate for the open seat. The Board passed resolutions to recommend the appointment of the two candidates, pending a legal review to determine eligibility, as it appears the two are married.
The Board also considered and passed a resolution supporting an amendment to the county’s Land Use Code, allowing an exception to its policy on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).
As currently drafted, the exception reads in part: “An ADU shall be exempt from compliance with density limitations if it is deed restricted in occupancy and price, with a recorded covenant such that it shall only be occupied by a tenant employed in the local workforce and rented at a level not to exceed 100 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) as set forth and amended by the Chaffee Housing Authority. To qualify as employed in the local workforce, the tenant must work an average of thirty (30) hours per week providing goods or services primarily to Chaffee County residents and visitors within Chaffee County at a place or places of employment physically located in Chaffee County.”
“ADUs are currently only allowed in the county on lots of four acres or more,” Kappel explained: “The exemption would allow for ADUs on smaller parcels if they are intended to be used as affordable workforce housing. The Planning Commission heard this last night, and they ended up tabling it. Some of them wanted to get rid of the ‘working in Chaffee County’ requirement…it’s going to go before the BoCC anyway, even with the PC tabling it.”
After discussion, which included terms for the CHA’s involvement in determining applicant eligibility, including work and full-time residential requirements, the Board voted to approve Resolution 2023-34.
In other business, the Board approved resolutions adopting a statement by the Chaffee Housing Solutions Coalition supporting a range of market rates and affordable housing, and an engagement letter for a 2023 audit, before turning to discussion of the CHA’s separation from the county.
“The county attorney is feeling like we are too interlinked and there are legal issues with insurance and employees,” said Kappel: “In some aspects separating from them, having our own bank account and such will help – it’s a blessing and a curse, but I think we need to do it,” adding, however, that “it’s going to cost us a lot of money.”
“Is it usual for other housing authorities to be separated from their governments?” asked Chairman Craig Nielson. “I don’t have a sense of all the housing authorities in the state,” Kappel replied: “Aspen and Eagle Valley are connected to their governments – I haven’t had a chance to research them all.”
“That’s the land-banking proposition that we will be putting before the Board at the October meeting,” she explained.
Kappel also introduced a new spreadsheet for affordable housing within Chaffee County, tracking information gathered from developers. Finally, the Board discussed the procedure for Kappel’s six-month review, scheduled for an Executive Session at an October meeting.