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Once Salida Mayor P.T. Wood began moderating Hal Brown’s petition referendum meeting April 12 at the Salida Community Center, the meeting proceeded more smoothly yet continued to highlight Salida’s political divide.

When asked about down payments for the condos, Danny Stotler said Federal Housing Authority, Veterans’ Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture loans will all be options.

Salida Crossings developer Duane Cozart said, with FHA and VA loans, people can buy with no down payment and that FHA loans typically require a 3-percent down payment.

Cozart said the lowest cost units are priced at $135,000 and that the monthly payments on those units would be $800 per month, which has increased over original estimates because of the drawn-out approval process and rising interest rates.

Read McCulloch, executive director of Chaffee Housing Trust, said the housing trust is working to provide down payment assistance. He reiterated that there are several different loan programs and qualifying applicants can get 100-percent financing.

When Mark Scott mentioned vacation rentals, Stotler said the development would have “no short-term rentals at all.”

Mel Garr, co-owner of Simple Lodge and Hostel, said, “Three families this week alone showed up at our door who are living in their vehicles. They have kids, they work in town. They’re not showing up because they don’t work hard for a living or because they can’t afford a place to live. They’re showing up because there isn’t a place to live. …

“At this point we’re in a crisis. Kids are living in vehicles. They’re showing up to school without showers. … These families can’t live like this.”

Lornie Lowry said she and her husband provided affordable housing for many people for 25 years and suggested that other employers should provide affordable housing to their employees.

Former councilwoman Melodee Hallett said she’d heard Cozart say it’s easier to build in Poncha Springs than Salida “because you understand the parameters … because you don’t have those ambiguities (in the code).”

Cozart agreed, to which Hallett responded, “This has been a problem for quite awhile … and that is … one of the reasons why I wanted to see this referendum is because I really feel this is the time to address it. … It needs to be addressed or we’re going to go through this time and time again.”

Steve Borbas asked Brown what he sees as the shortcomings to the ordinance.

When Brown’s response failed to answer the question directly, an attendee repeated the question, and Monika Griesenbeck told the man, “Don’t interrupt.”

Eventually, Brown said people’s concerns prompted him to look at the ordinance and that he sees discrepancies in the ordinance, including how the deed-restricted units will be managed. “So these discussions can be had again when the ordinance comes back to the city council for reconsideration.

“And it’ll be up to the city council to either repeal it … or boot it down the road and send it to a special election, and then the voters get to decide whether or not they want it.

“The other thing that was of concern to me was the traffic and the fact that this project was approved without ever having done a traffic study of any kind.”

Wood responded, “The access permit is part of the whole thing, and so the access permit and the traffic study, that’s between Duane and CDOT.”

When Brown continued to suggest the city had not done its due diligence regarding traffic impacts, Wood said, “To get the access permit, they have to do this traffic study and work with CDOT. … We don’t really have jurisdiction,” Wood added as Brown talked over him.

Brown said, “I have problems with this ordinance. This ordinance has got vagaries … when it says that deed restrictions will be enforced by somebody sometime, but we don’t know who.”

McCulloch said, “a real simple mechanism” to address this would be to give an entity like Chaffee Housing Trust a 0.01-percent ownership interest in each deed-restricted unit. Through this approach, with any chance of foreclosure, “that entity is notified, and that’s exactly what’s being proposed here in Salida Crossings.”

Brown asked, “What is wrong with putting that in the ordinance?”

McCulloch then questioned Brown, “You said it was after the ordinance was passed that you read it and realized that it was really inappropriate. There was a whole public process, and I’m wondering … if you are opposed to this now, where were you in the public process? And how is the petition moving us forward?”

“I don’t think that’s really a valid point,” said Griesenbeck, and Brown didn’t answer.

As Brown changed the subject, McCulloch reiterated, “How is the petition moving us forward? How is the special election and the cost moving us forward?”

“If there is a special election,” Brown replied, “that will be the decision of the city council.”

“Well,” said Wood, “a decision forced upon the city council.”

Paige Judd noted that increasing the housing supply will hopefully moderate prices in our town and free up more housing.

Cozart said he said he wished people would have come forward sooner “so that we could address these concerns. … For me to go through the correct process, spend a huge amount of time and effort to come this far to be told ‘no,’ and delay the project some more and further divide the city, it’s disheartening.”

When asked about the financial repercussions for the petition, Stotler said the cost of each unit would likely increase by about $10,000 for each buyer “because of this referendum.”

Read about the beginning of this meeting at