Proposed ordinance limits housing |

Proposed ordinance limits housing

Under a new ordinance the Nevada City City Council could soon consider, no one may develop a property into 35 houses or apartments within any given year.

The rule is already city policy, but the ordinance would make it law.

Under the proposed ordinance, 34 co-housing units on 11 acres off of West Broad Street will cost more to build, predicted Charles Durrett, principal architect with The Co-housing Co. of Berkeley, who is spearheading the project with wife and fellow architect, Kathryn McCamant.

The units, estimated at $200,000 to $415,000 depending on their style, could cost an extra $5,000 to $10,000, said Durrett, who was in town Monday to meet with city officials and families interested in buying a unit in the complex. The energy efficient complex will use sustainable grown wood, Durrett said. “It costs more to do that.”

Co-housing units are similar to town houses, but are built to encourage community living and walking. Future residents work hand-in-hand with the architects to design the complex. The idea, born in Denmark, was imported to the United States in the early 1980s.

The Co-housing Co. wants to sell seven lots around the project to help create enough cash flow to avoid borrowing money to pay down some of the preliminary costs, Durrett said.

Under the proposed ordinance, the city could approve the 34-unit complex, but not the construction of seven houses and granny houses during the same year on the lots around the co-housing project.

“We cannot sell lots telling folks ‘by the way, you cannot build your house for two years,'” Durrett said in a letter to the city Dec. 5.

While he understands the city wants to grow incrementally, the new ordinance will not take care of the need for affordable housing, he said.

The proposed ordinance would keep new housing developments on a scale with Nevada City, city officials who support the proposal have repeatedly said. The ordinance was put forward after a proposal to build a 80-unit apartment complex at the site was defeated.

Nevada City Mayor David McKay, who has worked on the proposal, said the policy was founded on the need to have a mix of affordable, moderate and upper-end housing in any given housing development.

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