RAYBROOK - The town of North Elba and the village of Lake Placid need help from the Adirondack Park Agency in order to institute an affordable housing initiative that is included within the communities' proposed joint zoning regulations.
Within the proposed local regulations - expected to be adopted before year's end - is a provision requiring all developers that subdivide 10 or more lots to build at least one home that costs no more than $220,000.
To incentivize the regulation and avoid a rush of high-end, nine-lot subdivisions, the code would increase the number of buildings that would be permitted on a given parcel.
Dean Dietrich chairs the steering committee that has overseen the redrafting of the comprehensive land use regulations.
"We were very concerned that we'd end up with a lot of nine-lot subdivisions. So if you got 10 lots, we're going to give you a bonus. We're not going to count the mandatory housing plus we're going to give you a bonus. Basically, the guy goes from 10 to 12," he said. "We also say you can play with setbacks and other things to make sure you can get your densities in there."
Dietrich notes that if the APA doesn't get on board, the proposed plan would only work within the hamlet.
"The other area where the density bonuses might be a problem is outside of the hamlet because the APA has their own restrictions," he said. "They seem to be on board. They have the ability, but they've never done it."
Density restrictions outside of the hamlet areas of Adirondack towns without an adopted Master Plan are regulated by the agency. In North Elba's case, the park agency would have to be on board with the incentive plan in order for it to actually be in effect outside of the downtown area.
Under typical APA requirements, in an area classified as moderate use, for example, each house must sit on at least 1.3 acres. The local land-use code would exceed the APA's regulations.
If a developer opts not to build the low-cost housing they must then contribute around $65,000 to a community-specific housing fund that would be managed by the Adirondack Housing Trust.
Dietrich told the boards of both the town and the village that he has been consulting with APA planning staff and characterized their current stance as supportive.
The park agency is currently reviewing the plan.
APA spokesman Keith McKeever said it's something the state regulatory body will give serious consideration.
"We are very supportive of their affordable housing efforts," he said.
The agency itself is currently championing its own affordable housing bill in the state legislature that would allow for a four-for-one density bonus for affordable housing projects.
The lack of affordable housing in Lake Placid is especially stark. It's one of the primary reasons the county runs a busing service from surrounding towns into the village.
The busses carry much of the tourist-community's hospitality workforce.