Frisco builder seeks more density
FRISCO – Frisco Town Council members cleared the way last week for greater density in local businessman Paul Veralli’s proposed project near the intersection of 8th Avenue and Granite Street.Veralli bought the current site of the recycling drop-off center from the town last summer for $1.25 million. The property is adjacent to land already owned by Veralli.Frisco sold the nearly one-acre parcel to the local veterinarian for its approximate appraised value without a competitive bidding process. Town manager Michael Penny explained the town’s decision not to sell the property on the open market.”We thought the town gained by selling it to one person,” he said. “We had an opportunity to gain affordable housing units and a commitment for the entire area to be one development.” In Veralli’s contract with the town, he agreed to include eight units of affordable housing in his plan.The location is zoned for a maximum density of 14 units per acre. With a total area of slightly less than two acres, existing zoning regulations limit the project to 27 units. Because of his written commitment to eight affordable housing units, Veralli is limited to 19 market units on the property.The town council is considering a zoning amendment that would allow increased density in some areas as an incentive to build affordable housing. One part of this amendment, known as a “density bonus,” increases the allowable number of units if at least half the total number of additional units is affordable housing.With a density bonus, if Veralli wants to increase density he has to provide one additional affordable housing unit for every additional market unit.The requestVeralli approached the council last Tuesday to request his obligation of eight affordable housing units be applied to a density bonus if the zoning amendment is adopted. Instead of including affordable housing in the property’s base density of 27 units, Veralli wants the option to add market units consistent with the terms of the density bonus. The project could then include 35 market units, rather than the current limit of 19, along with the contractually required eight affordable units, bringing the total number of units to 43.”We’re trying to get the same treatment as any other developer,” Veralli told the council. “It’s a question of fairness.” He said he never intended to give up so many of his base market units to affordable housing.The council’s discussion centered on an ordinance concerning zoning definitions. A sentence included in the definition of “density bonus” stated it is not applicable to any dwelling where the construction of affordable housing is already required by contract or agreement with the town.Town attorney Thad Renaud told the council the density bonus is meant to encourage development of affordable housing and applying it to an existing contract would be an example of an “incentive gone wrong.”The council voted unanimously to remove the sentence restricting the use of the density bonus.”In the interest of fairness, it makes sense to delete that one sentence,” council member Tom Looby said.Town of Frisco community development director Mark Gage said the sentence had been inserted in the ordinance to clarify the affordable housing obligations of developers who buy town-owned property. In regards to last summer’s sale of the parcel on 8th Avenue, Gage said he remembers Veralli’s offer to build affordable housing favorably impressed the council. Tuesday’s council vote will allow Veralli to apply for the density bonus if the zoning amendment is approved.
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