Arroyo housing project moves forward

Audrey Graham, left, and Janis Adkins review a tentative map for the planned 300-unit Arroyo Grande affordable housing subdivision in Spanish Valley.
Photo by Doug McMurdo

The road leading into the westernmost boundary of the planned Arroyo Crossing affordable housing subdivision in Spanish Valley doesn’t exist at the moment, so Audrey Graham jokingly calls the dirt path Budweiser Street, a reference to a nearby beer distributor.

When it comes to providing a solution to Moab’s affordable housing issues, however, Graham is earnestly serious.

An energetic woman with a ready smile, she recently took a reporter and friend Janis Adkins in tow and walked the anonymously donated 42-acre property off Spanish Valley Drive, identifying flora and fauna she expects will be transplanted somewhere else once groundbreaking occurs.

When that will be is anyone’s guess, but Graham said the momentum is building and she expects the Moab Area Community Land Trust to which she belongs will develop a truly affordable subdivision featuring 300 homes in a mix of multi- and single-family residences, cottages and neighborhood businesses, such as child care outlets, cafés and coffee shops, Laundromats and small markets.

Bringing affordable housing to Moab has been an uphill climb, but the MACLT board of directors has methodically put one foot in front of the other since the trust’s creation in 1998. Arroyo Crossing and the donation of more than 40 acres was a game changer for the trust. Last February MACLT was awarded a $4.2 million infrastructure grant for the project, which falls under Grand County’s recently adopted High-Density Housing Overlay.

The MACLT has to come up with a $190,000 match in order to receive the grant and already has collected more than $102,000 in private donations, a significant portion that was, once again, donated anonymously.

The trust seeks a waiver on development fees, which are likely necessary in order to keep costs down for the developer. As much as $330,000 in impact fees could be waived over the 10-year buildout period.

The Grand County Council on Tuesday night in a 4-1 vote agreed to waive up to $50,000 in application fees, but any waiver for impact fees will have to wait until next year. There is no funding available to offset any waivers this year.

“We are absolutely thrilled,” said Graham after the vote. Member Curtis Wells made the successful motion to approve the waiver. Member Greg Halliday cast the no vote. Vice Chair Terry Morse and Member Rory Paxman were not in attendance.

Member Jaylyn Hawks questioned whether a precedent would be set leading to other developers asking for waivers.

Wells responded: “As long as we have affordable housing issues, I look forward to reviewing those projects.”

Timing is critical for Arroyo Crossing, said Graham, as the deal has to close by Sept. 30. At that point work to cut roads and install other infrastructure for the entire solar-ready project could begin.

“Once the infrastructure is in, we should be self-sustaining,” said Graham. She noted the trust will retain ownership of the land and homeowners will pay $35 to $50 a month to use the land on top of their mortgages, which will be based on income.

Deed restrictions will be in place. While eligibility will be based on income, the goal is to provide housing opportunities to Grand County’s essential workforce. Those seeking to purchase with the intent to flip the house for a profit will be out of luck.

The MALT has a survey it wants residents to complete in order to provide insight on what types of housing and amenities are desired. Here’s the link: tinyurl.com/macltsurvey2019!