Monday, April 27, 2009

Affordable Housing? Chesterfield?

I have been a long time resident of Chesterfield. In being such, I have experienced the pains of living in a condo after college, than trying to find a townhouse and than ultimately trying to find a first home in a County where it appears as though the powers that be have been content for the last fifteen years to do everything possible to make the County a Parade of Homes display of 3,500 sq. feet or more gala of developments.

People always ask me why it is so many who graduated from Chesterfield schools and went on the Virginia colleges find themselves not here in Richmond, but in places like Northern Virginia? Of course, most people think its jobs and income, but as the data keeps coming in about Chesterfield and Henrico County it is less about jobs and more about housing. The proff is also in the rental market and leasing market here in Richmond versus other parts of the country. We have not fallen off as much in large part is there just is not the supply of "affordable" condos and townhomes and even single-family homes relative to those other markets. Ours rarely stay long on the market. Why? there is more people out there looking to downsize, looking for their first starter home or simply single just out of college and into theri first real job of their career and they are looking not for a 3,000 sq ft house but something much different.

The Centralia Station debate last week by the Planning Commission left many residents, including myself, scratching our heads. At some point must we not start to ask ourselves "do we really need" as opposed to "do we really want" some of these developments just because we have someone willing to build them. I mean at some point, and I am no conspiracist, could not a case be made that the County has long been keeping the development of affordable housing at bay while they approve massive large lot developments. Afterall, when you hear about 1/ 2 acre lots folks they are not talking "affordable" based on the current cost of land and current value in Chesterfield. Someone could probably make the case that it has been the policy to in fact deter the development of smaller homes.

Such development views has certainly resulted in the rise of renatl property throughout the County as well. We have to understand that we are a diverse community here and most of us have been in the position of not being able to find a home we could afford in that school district that we want our kids to attend. Since it seem to much to ask these days that all the schools be equal in SOL and No Child Left behind benchmarks, might we want to take a look at "affordable" housing as a means of permitting entry for those who seek the best for their children as well.


Perry DeMay said...

I could not agree with your post more. We need more affordable housing for the working people of the county who are not wealthy. I hope we can send that message to the planning commission and the board of supervisors. If we can’t get them onboard then maybe someone will run for office that will make those changes to get “affordable housing” in our county.

James West said...

Its the unspoken truth that officials in Chesterfield have long look down their noses at affordable housing.

Even if you look at Jefferson Davis Highway and the uprooting of those who lived in the trailer park in that part of the County they used the term "progress" as simply a means to developing people out of their respective area.

Midlothian for quite sometime has been an area representing higher incomes and home values in the County and yet it seems that with all the development they have managed to oversee an escalation in land values that affordable housing in the future will be all but non-existant in this area of the County.

You can thank Dan Gecker, former Chairman of the Planning Commission appointed by Ed Barber and now the current Midlothian Supervisor for much of the growth issues we face in the County today.

Gecker if you recall promised "Planning Not Politics" in his campaign literature when he ran against Don Sowder(R) in the last election cycle.

It is apparent given all the Boards that Gecker throughout the region is on he has been skilled more at "politics" as of late than anything resembling "planning".

If you recall it was Gecker measure that lessoned the cash proffers last year from the proposed increase which would have been more than Geckers measure. In fact, the County still lags way behind in other jurisdiction with similar growth rates in terms of the burden it places on developers as opposed to tax payers. Gecker promised to address the ratio of revenues from the commercial community versus that of the tax payers and still has proposed nothing.

Lucks Lane said...

You cannot build single family affordable housing when you start with proffers of 20k.

One has to be content with a decent used starter home and move up.

Our first residence in Chesterfield was a $348 one br apt in Chesterfield Village.

We have affordable housing here bur it does not come with granite counters and hot tubs.

Anonymous said...

Luck lane is a big part of the problem and the officials feed such ignornace of housing starts.

Proffers are indeed past on to the home buyer, but it is the value of the land that has risen so dramatically that has created the issue with one size home should go on a lot. I have seen lots in Matacoa no more than a quarter acre be almost 250K near the Reservoir. of course no affordable housing can be built on such a lot, but the County certainly can require affordable housing as a component of say Roseland or Magnolia Green had they been so inclined. Instead they saw yet another avenue to securing property tax revenue off 400K homes. Its about money people, not housing.

Builders like Mitchell Homes in Powhatan has little problem building affordable housing for people who own their lots. You would be surprised what you get with a 200K home from a builder like Mitchell. And yes Lucks, you can get granite tops and custom kitchen.

Lucks Lane said...

Toll Bros could build a home for 200k in Powatan.on someone's lot.

Of course you get well water, no sewage, and crappy schools. Good luck if you need emergency services.

We need to get out of this idea that everyone is entilted to a new SF home.

Alter of Freedom said...

I believe what is being expressed here may be a little misplaced. The issue is whether the County is maiking the determination through policy to prohibit such creation of affordable housing through its on planning measures and parameters and not whether Toll, Centex, Main Street or Ryan Homes can build a home in the 175 to 225 area. They can and will, but first it requires the land and all the permit and proffer fees as well as all the consulting fees that go into a development before a single piece of earth to moved.
Densioty is the question that remains unresolved and until it is you will have larger homes on larger lots as a means of keeping values high and property tax revenue at a steady clip.
By the way I think you might want to check out the SOL scores from our neighbor. I think you will find they rival many Chesterfield County schools and in fact ONLY 10 schools in the County are meeting No Child Left Behind benchmarks set by the feds in 2002.

Lucks Lane said...

Alter Of Freedom is correct. It is the soft costs that run the price of housing up.

I have worked in real eatate taxation for 23 years and beleive in affordable housing. It is the numbers that make new affordable stock difficult to construct.

I disapprove of the County running people who own trailers out of their trailers.