Letter: Brewer, Fraser Affordable Housing
Fraser Affordable Housing
We can probably all agree that affordable rental units in the Fraser/Winter Park area are scarce. Demand for rental housing has driven prices out of reach for many who work in the service industry at our hotels, restaurants, and the ski area. Agreements between the Town of Fraser and Cornerstone Holdings have always contained ‘attainable (affordable) housing’ requirements as part of the overall development. However, actually getting the affordable housing units built has proven problematic. Regularly at board meetings this topic comes up, and just as regularly we listen to endless excuses from Cornerstone as to why the ‘attainable housing’ requirements have not been met, or quibbles with the Board over what the definition of ‘attainable’ is.
Now the developer is claiming that the “high” sewer and water tap fees are keeping them from building affordable housing units. Granted, the combined sewer and water tap fees are not insignificant but the tap fees in Fraser are completely in-line with similar fees charged in other communities in Colorado. Fraser is not uniquely expensive in this regard, and the fees have been a well-known cost of doing business for developers anywhere in Colorado for a long time. That this has suddenly become an issue for Cornerstone is quite surprising!
The sewer and water tap fees are not arbitrary. They are determined based on the cost of providing adequate service facilities to the present and future residents in Fraser and surrounding areas. The overall dollar cost of building and maintaining the treatment facilities is spread, in part, across the new users who connect into the system. To reduce (or eliminate) these fees for a specific developer seems to be granting a back-door subsidy to a private company, the cost of which will ultimately be borne by the existing residents of Fraser. This is just plain wrong.
There are overhead costs that impact the bottom-line profit of every business. It is not shocking when businesses try to shift or eliminate those costs. Hey, wouldn’t we all like to get something for nothing? However, unless there is a significant and well defined benefit to the town and its taxpaying citizens, with precise milestones to measure that benefit, AND until a thorough cost/benefit analysis has been provided for public consideration, changes to the existing fee structure should be vigorously opposed by the Town Board.
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