Town News

Catchup with Council, July 12, 2022 – Housing Bonus Density Options, Strategic Priorities Review

Housing Bonus Density Incentive Discussion

Town Council discussed the Town of Frisco’s current bonus density incentive, which permits a developer to exceed the maximum allowable density on a project in exchange for building workforce housing as a strategy to help increase the availability and affordability of housing. Staff presented the history and overview of the Town of Frisco’s bonus density incentive:

  • The Frisco bonus density incentive was first adopted in 1998 and was applicable only to the central core district. The code has since been revised several times to include multiple zoning districts, redefine requirements for affordable housing units, offer an off-site affordable housing option, and create uniform language throughout the Town code to refer to the bonus density incentive.
  • The bonus density incentive was last revised on April 9, 2019, to add the requirement that all affordable housing units generated by the bonus density incentive had to be deed-restricted at 100% of the area median income (AMI).
  • The current version of the bonus density incentive allows two density bonus options for new development in the CC, GW, and MU Zone Districts, on-site and off-site workforce housing.
    • The first option incentivizes the developer to build on-site workforce housing units by allowing multi-family projects to exceed the maximum density, provided that a minimum of 50 percent of the total number of bonus units is deed restricted at 100 percent of the area median income (AMI). To qualify, each deed-restricted unit must be no more than 15 percent smaller in gross floor area than the corresponding bonus market-rate unit.
    • The second option allows the developer to exceed the maximum allowable density, provided that for each bonus unit, at least two deed-restricted units are constructed offsite within a one-mile radius of Town limits. For off-site deed-restricted units, the total combined floor area of every two off-site affordable units shall be equal to or greater than the floor area of the corresponding on-site density bonus unit, or at least 600 square feet per unit.

Since implementation of the density bonus incentive in 1998, the density bonus incentive has generated more than one deed-restricted unit per year and accounts for 18% of all deed-restricted units within Frisco boundaries.

Additional Bonus Density Options

Findings from the recently established Workforce Housing Development Committee, consisting of two councilmembers, Town staff, and housing developers, showed that the density bonus was no longer working as intended due to rising construction costs which make the current workforce housing requirements unsustainable and that current options conflict with low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) requirements. As a result, staff proposed two additional options:

  • Allow a developer to exceed the maximum density, with the requirement that 100% of the bonus units are restricted with the deed restriction that the Town is currently utilizing under the Housing Helps program, which requires occupants to work a minimum of 30 hours per week in Summit County, but has no AMI limit. This would create an option that is financially feasible for a developer, doubles the number of deed-restricted units created, and would require no subsidy from the Town.
  • The fourth option adds a provision for LIHTC projects to the first option. LIHTC projects require that the units are deed-restricted to average 60% AMI, but do not allow restrictions on where the occupants work. With this proposed option, the development would be allowed to exceed the maximum density, provided that a minimum of 50 percent of the total number of bonus units are deed restricted to LIHTC requirements, but omitting the requirement that the occupant work in Summit County for 30 hours per week.

Council supported the addition of these two options to allow for as many solutions as possible to address each segment of housing needs. Council also directed staff to research options for expanding the radius of off-site workforce housing provided by developers to meet the density bonus requirements, as well as revisiting parking requirements of new developments as they relate to workforce housing and bonus density units. All four elements of this discussion will come back to Council as amendments to the Town Code at the second Town Council meeting in August.

Summit Stage Update

Kent Willis, Summit County Transit Board Chair and Town of Frisco representative for the Summit Stage, presented updates on the state of the free countywide transportation service ahead of the organization’s upcoming annual retreat. Willis stated that the Summit Stage was experiencing staffing shortages, like the rest of Summit County, which resulted in reduction of service from every half hour, to one hour across all routes. Willis talked about the challenges around operating the current electric bus fleet at high altitude and the more extreme weather and temperature conditions present in Summit County. Willis also mentioned some ideas in the works to provide more efficient service and to increase ridership, which has decreased about 15% since 2019, including the potential of running busses across the Dillon Dam Road, which would increase overall connectivity.

Council Goals and Priorities Review

Staff presented for Council’s review the goals and priorities established at the most recent Council retreat held earlier this summer. The purpose of this review was to be able to better plan for the upcoming budget discussions as well as to prepare for the incoming Town Manager. The individual goals were discussed within the context of Council’s strategic priorities, including core services; arts, culture, and recreation; economy; community; and environment, and subsequently measurable outcomes were determined that would further guide Council’s conversations and decisions.

Amendments to Purchasing Code

Town Council adopted on first reading an ordinance to amend the Town purchasing code based on a discussion at the June 28, 2022 work session. The revisions will enable the Town of Frisco to enter into purchasing cooperatives in order to access lower pricing options than the Town could access on its own.

It is common practice for smaller, local governments, to take advantage of pricing offered to larger scale organizations, such as the State of Colorado, by entering into agreements with lead agencies, which handle the bidding and contract processes for goods and services for use by all participating members. This change does not negate Town’s current ability to manage its own purchasing processes; rather it adds options to enter into purchasing agreements that are advantageous to the Town.

The code amendments in this ordinance will also raise the purchasing limits for each level of accountability required: department manager’s discretion, required verbal quote, required written quote, and required competitive bids. The current limits have been in place since adoption in July 2007, and the new limits were determined using the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator.

Frisco Town Council Meetings: Ways to Participate

Frisco Town Council meetings are available to view via Zoom and YouTube, and are also held in person to make Town Council meetings easier to access for everyone.

The public can provide comment during meetings via Zoom or in person (not YouTube), and a public comment period will be available at 7:00pm; during the consideration of ordinances; and at the discretion of Town Council during work session items, which are discussions that don’t require a formal vote by Town Council and do not require public comment.

Again, this hybrid approach is intended to make Town Council meetings more accessible, and meeting recordings will typically also be made available the day after a meeting in the meeting archive with agenda topics bookmarked to the discussions in the video.