News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

City, developer nail down affordable housing

The ClearPine subdivision in the northeast corner of Sisters, site of the original Lundgren pine lumber mill, has been involved in 15 different City decisions, land-use approvals, applications and modifications over the past 13 years.

The latest modification application submitted by ClearPine developer Peter Hall and 3 Sisters Partners was approved, with conditions, by the Sisters City Council at their June 10 meeting. The application hearing had been continued from the May 27 Council meeting to allow Hall to respond to potential conditions of approval proposed by Council members during the May 27 meeting.

In the original 2007 development agreement between the City and ClearPine, the developer agreed to construct eight affordable-housing units as part of the development and they were to be constructed by May 2020. Early in the process, Hall told the City he doesn’t normally build affordable housing so they would be completed by another builder, or perhaps Habitat for Humanity or NeighborImpact.

As market-rate housing construction continued in ClearPine, and another builder had not been identified, Hall agreed to sell six lots to Habitat for Humanity at a reduced price to build affordable housing. The other two units, being built by Hall as rental units, consist of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom single-family home for four, with a one-bedroom accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on the same property. They will both have deed restrictions to maintain them as affordable-rental units for 20 years.

The original deadline for all the affordable units to be built was May 2020. Due to delays in acquiring funding from Oregon’s Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) Housing Program and then the onset of COVID-19, the May 2020 deadline has come and gone.

The coronavirus shutdown of the Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store and ReStore has negatively impacted their income stream that is a key revenue source of Habitat’s affordable-home construction program.

In the meantime, 3 Sisters Partners has constructed the single-family home/ADU to meet the original requirement (modified) of a two-unit duplex and will record a deed restriction in order to be sure those two units will remain affordable for the required 20-year period.

Council wanted to have conditions of approval that are straightforward and easily enforced, given the history of modifications requested in the past. One condition requires that building permits for the six affordable-housing units being built by Habitat must be secured prior to Hall being able to move forward with Phase 4 of the subdivision. During negotiations, Hall agreed to cover the cost of the transportation and parks system development charges (SDCs) for four of the Habitat units (approximately $3,400 each). He told councilors he would be encouraging Habitat to secure their building permits by December 1, so he can begin work on Phase 4.

With the conveyance of the six lots to Habitat for construction of affordable units, 3 Sisters fulfilled its obligation to provide and construct a six-unit rental complex as specified in the 2007 Development Agreement and subsequent land-use approvals. The City approved a modification that allowed for the units to be built as three two-unit affordable-housing buildings for Habitat owners.

The construction of the deed-restricted single-family and ADU rental units fulfills the developer’s obligation to provide and construct a two-unit duplex as specified in the 2007 agreement. Filing deed restrictions ensure such units will remain affordable for the required 20-year period.

By placing two affordable-rental units on the market in 2020, and Habitat offering six affordable-housing units for sale to its client base in 2021 and beyond, the City decided 3 Sisters has fulfilled all obligations to construct and provide affordable-housing units within the City of Sisters as specified in the 2007 Development Agreement and all subsequent land-use approvals.


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