Town Council passes new housing standards

Joshua Farmer

The Boone Town Council approved the work-force housing standards 4-1 Tuesday after adding an amendment to allowing mixed-use buildings in the business district.

These proposals will take effect immediately and the mixed-used buildings would include businesses on the first floor and residential property on subsequent floors, said town council member Andy Ball.

The standards will include requiring the master bedroom to be 25 percent larger than other bedrooms, a required amount of storage and allowing no more than two unrelated occupants to live in the residence.

“So if you build a mixed used project, meaning commercial and residential together, then you can pretty much do whatever style of apartments or townhomes, or any kind of housing you want,” said Ball, who voted for the standards.

Pam Williamson, a member of the Affordable Housing Task Force, which made the recommendations for an ordinance to change building codes, said that this is not a ploy to prevent the building of “quad-style,” or student housing.

“The job of the task force was to come up with a way to increase the amount of workforce-style housing,” Williamson said.

Williamson said that the lack of family housing has hindered Boone’s ability to attract workers.

Williamson also said there is currently a five percent over supply of quad-style housing, but Ball said there is no way to determine an exact number until the town’s housing study is released this April.

Town council and task force member Lynn Mason, who voted for the standards, said these requirements are meant to increase diversity in housing.

“Unfortunately, the reality is that there is a section of our community that doesn’t have a viable housing option,” Mason said.

There has been a demand for workforce housing for 10 years, but other than two projects, no one has built workforce housing, Mason said during the meeting.

Allen Scherlan, a member of Town Council and the only person to vote against the standards, said that the town council should wait until the housing study is released in April to determine new housing standards.

“Everyone supports affordable housing, but there are still problems,” Scherlan said.

The workforce housing standards were proposed last month. The town council held a public hearing Feb. 4.

“I’m excited about the proposal and what this will do for the community,” Ball said. “I hope we can look back in 10 years and it has created more diversity of housing stock for those in the working force community in this town.”

Story: CHELSEY FISHER, Managing Editor and JOSHUA FARMER, News Editor