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Nonprofit Heber housing developer seeks to lower number of affordable units in project

Parkview Place.jpg
Mountainlands Community Housing Trust
A neighborhood plan for the Parkview Place subdivision shows a layout of 13 single-family homes, 30 townhomes and six duplex homes.

What was once planned as a 100% affordable housing development in southwestern Heber City may end up selling 20% of its homes at market rate.

A nonprofit housing developer in Heber is requesting a change in plans to allow a 100% affordable subdivision to sell 20% of its homes at market rate. After narrow approval by the planning commission Tuesday, it’ll be up to the city council. 

Mountainlands Community Housing Trust Executive Director Pat Matheson said he regretted the requested change for the Parkview Place development in southwestern Heber City, along the train track.

The original idea was to place deed restrictions for all 49 homes there to be low cost, selling for between $290,000 and $400,000.

The change is to allow roughly 10 of those to be sold at market rate, which is much higher, to provide extra money for surging construction costs.

Matheson said that’s necessary to make sure the other 40 homes restricted to Wasatch County essential workers can be built. On Tuesday, the Heber City Planning Commission agreed with him, voting 3 to 2 to recommend the city council approve the change.

The project hit delays during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, after construction of the first 14 units began in 2019.

“Unfortunately, the project encountered all sorts of delays and setbacks,” Matheson said. “I take responsibility for that and know we could have managed it better. Our goal remains as it always has been, which is to create affordable housing for sale to the people in Heber Valley who keep us safe, educated, fed, healthy.”

He said Mountainlands will become the general contractor, and he expected to manage the project more efficiently with more direct control.

Commissioner Oscar Covarrubias said he voted in favor because the city needs affordable housing, and this may be its only shot at adding more for years.

“This is a nonprofit,” said Derek Slagowski, planning commissioner. “If this was a regular developer, they probably wouldn’t even ask. If they did, we probably wouldn’t even entertain it. I think this is a different situation.”

Dave Richards and Robert Wilson voted against recommending the amendment, saying it needed further review.

Meanwhile, Sid Ostergaard recused himself from the vote because Mountainlands is one of his clients. That left Commission Chair Dennis Gunn as the tie-breaking vote. With his yes vote to recommend approval, the amendment will go to the city council for final approval in January.

The vote came with three conditions that the city council may uphold.

For one, Mountainlands would give the council regular progress updates.

Second, the owners of the homes sold at market rate can’t rent them out to other people.

Third, Mountainlands will list the sales prices of the 14 homes under construction now in time for the January city council meeting.

Those are 1,700-square-foot, single-family homes with two-car garages. They’re expected to be finished and have people living in them in early 2023.

The subdivision plans also include 30 townhomes and six duplexes, spread out across future phases.

Footage of the full planning commission meeting can be found at this link.

Ben Lasseter reports for KPCW in Wasatch County. Before moving to Heber City, Ben worked in Manti as a general assignment newspaper reporter and editor.
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