Lewiston group approves low-income housing plan
By Sarah Buttars
The Affordable Housing Plan aims to make sure people are not excluded from living in the city because of their incomes.
The state has mandated cities to come up with plans so that people can find affordable housing, according to Thom Smith, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The need for affordable housing is real.
"The booming economy is great if you own your home," said JoLynne Lyon, drafter of the plan.
The plan allows homes of any size to be built next to each other, and permits multifamily housing if they are not placed together.
The plan allows for a "reasonable amount of growth." According to the city's master plan a reasonable amount of growth is 2 to 3 percent. In Lewiston this translates to 12 to 15 homes annually.
It's not a direct way of accomplishing affordable housing.
"There's only so much the city can do. They can write the plan but it's not going to help us," said Recorder Clerk Justin Lawson.
Complying with this mandate could mean funding for housing, but funding probably won't come to Lewiston. The available resources will primarily go to build large complexes that would house upwards of 20 families, according to Smith. A building of this capacity is not practical for Lewiston.
The commission also discussed the controversial top soil mining issue. Members are working on an ordinance that would make it necessary to obtain a temporary permit to mine top soil. The cost of this would be $25.
Mining could not surpass 10 percent of the existing top soil.
"How far do we go operating in good faith?" asked said Chairman Bruce Karren "What is going to stop people from mining 10 percent this year and then 10 percent the next?"
The reason the commission is concerned with the top soil issue is to maintain the integrity of the farm land. Excessive top soil mining makes the land unproductive.
There will be a public hearing on this issue before the City Council
meeting at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16.