March 31, 2008

Franklin studies affordable housing issue

Franklin creates task force to look at affordable housing
Nashville Business Journal - by Jenny Burns
An affordable workforce housing task force is being created in Franklin to study barriers builders say keep them from building affordable homes in Williamson County - high land costs, impact fees and low-density restrictions.
Franklin's new mayor and board of aldermen say they recognize the need for teachers, policeman, city employees and retail workers to be able to buy homes where they work, says Vernon Gerth, assistant city administrator for community and economic development.
"There's mid- to higher-end but not much toward the lower price ranges," Gerth says. "That is a very critical community and economic development issue in our community as we continue to grow."
"Having a balanced community includes affordable and moderately priced housing, which is a challenge and needs focused attention," Gerth adds.
The median price for a home in Williamson County increased to $387,000 from $371,118 in February. The median is the mid-range in a series of numbers, meaning half the homes sold for more than those amounts, and half for less.
"In the $150,000 to $250,000 range, there are very few properties that are for sale [in Franklin] and if they are, they're 35 to 40 years old and may need repair. That's another problem," says David Pair, government affairs director for the Williamson County Association of Realtors.
The committee will examine Franklin's zoning regulations in areas such as density, design standards and impact fees. Gerth says the goal is to facilitate the ability to offer more affordable housing.
Builder Peggy Krebs of Elite Homes says zoning, privilege taxes and land costs make it difficult to build affordable homes in Williamson County.
She focuses on building affordably-priced homes, she says, because she remembers struggling to pay apartment rent and then buying her first home.
Krebs says she can only build affordable homes in Davidson County where there is no privilege tax.
"The trends for affordable housing are not good," Krebs says. "I give [the Nashville] mayor and city [praise] for trying to address it. Some of our other surrounding counties, not so much."

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