Breck targets affordable housing violation
December 21, 2005
BRECKENRIDGE – Town officials continue to pursue an alleged violation of an affordable housing covenant in the Wellington Neighborhood, and have filed charges against Kirk and Pam Alter, who bought a Wellington house in 2004.An arraignment in the criminal case was set for Breckenridge Municipal Court Dec. 14, but was delayed after the Alters recently retained a local attorney, said town prosecutor Seth Murphy.Ron Carlson, the Frisco attorney representing the Alters, did not return calls Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning.To purchase deed-restricted units in the Wellington Neighborhood, prospective buyers must sign an affidavit confirming that they live and work in town. According to town manager Tim Gagen, the Alters did sign the affidavit, but town officials have said there is no evidence the couple ever lived in the unit. Murphy said that, by all accounts, the Alters have only visited their Wellington unit a few times since they bought it.The unit is now for sale, but Murphy and Gagen said the town plans to prosecute the violation regardless.”They may have intended to move to the county when they bought the unit, but they didn’t,” Murphy said.The town is pursuing the case to make it clear that it won’t tolerate abuse of its affordable housing covenants, Gagen said. Fines could reach as high as $100 per day for every day the owners are in violation. Town officials have attempted to contact the Alters, who have not responded, Gagen added.The deed restrictions require owners to live in the house and to work in Summit County at least 30 hours per week.Affordable housing covenants and deed restrictions stand on firm legal ground, said Bonnie Osborn, director of the Summit Housing Authority (SHA). The only part that may be subjective is whether the owners actually live in the unit as required, Osborn said.The SHA monitors about 350 deed-restricted units locally, sending out forms annually to the owners of those units to confirm whether they live and work in the county. If the forms aren’t returned, the SHA follows up with phone calls and visits to the property to try and determine whether the owners are complying with the affordable housing requirements.”If we can’t get hold of them, we give it to the town or the county,” Osborn said.Most owners of Summit County affordable housing units stay in compliance with the deed restrictions, Osborn said, adding that there have been only a two serious violations in recent years.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.