Arlington Heights trustees favor affordable housing ordinance

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Arlington Heights is poised to become one of eight municipalities in the Chicago area that has an affordable housing ordinance on the books.

The new rules, agreed to Monday night by the village board, would put more teeth into guidelines that have been in place since 2008, but have been largely unrealistic and unenforceable with every proposed development project that has come to town, officials say.

Though eight board members present for Monday’s meeting expressed their support for the new housing standards, a final vote on the five-page ordinance is expected at the next board meeting Aug. 3.

It calls for certain percentages of new construction apartments to be priced below market rates, allows developers to pay fees to a village housing trust fund in some cases, and would charge an impact fee to discourage teardowns of older, smaller homes.

"We know it doesn’t go as far as some people would like. We also know it probably goes further than some developers would like," said Charles Witherington-Perkins, the village’s director of planning and community development. "We’re trying to kind of walk that line to come up with an implementable ordinance that won’t scare development away, while still allow the ability to get affordable units in Arlington Heights."

Under the ordinance, the village would charge a so-called $3,500 linkage fee to developers who demolish older, more affordable homes and replace them with newer, more expensive ones. Such a fee would represent about 0.4% of a new home’s list price.

Trustees Mary Beth Canty and Rich Baldino said they thought the proposed fee was too low, but Village Manager Randy Recklaus said it’s a starting point and can be amended in the future.

"It’s kind of a blessing and a curse that we have these market tailwinds that on the one hand allow us to improve our housing stock and keep them from falling into disrepair," Recklaus said. "But on the other hand obviously we don’t want to have an unchecked market where you’re losing all of your affordable housing, which is something we’ve been seeing."

The ordinance calls for all new multifamily rental developments of more than nine units to provide apartments deemed "affordable," which would be priced for those making at or below 60% of the area median income (about $37,440 for a single person).

For the downtown, that would mean 7.5% of apartments in a building, though a developer could provide a minimum of 5% while paying the other 2.5% as a $25,000-per-unit fee in lieu.

Outside the downtown, 5% of units must be below market rates, while publicly-assisted developments are held to a 10% standard.

New rental properties of nine units or less and multi-family for sale developments would not be required to provide cheaper units, but would have to pay fees instead.

Trustee Tom Schwingbeck said he’s glad the ordinance still allows "room for discussion" with developers. That includes a provision allowing the village board to grant relief from strict application of the requirements.

"The proof is in the pudding, and if we’re seeing developers either walk away from projects or not come to our village in the first place, going to other towns and cities around us, we’re going to have to monitor this closely so we don’t lose some nice opportunities that we’re trying to bring to this village," Schwingbeck said.

Other municipalities with affordable housing ordinances are Chicago, Crystal Lake, Evanston, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Oak Park and St. Charles.

26-Delivered

via Daily Herald

July 21, 2020 at 08:36PM

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