Planning commission approves affordable housing plan

Sharna Johnson

Clovis’ planning and zoning commission unanimously approved the city’s affordable housing plan Wednesday.

The vote came following a presentation of the plan by Community and Legislative Director Claire Burroughes.

“The rental housing market here is overburdened,” Burroughes said.

One of the projects giving the plan momentum is the renovation of Hotel Clovis to convert it to housing units. Without the plan, the city cannot assist the developer — who has an approximate $1.4 million shortfall — with financing.

An ordinance was introduced by the city commission April 7 for the plan with a final vote to implement it expected May 5.

The plan examines income levels, available housing and housing needs, including those of the military, single parents and special needs households.

The plan also prescribes a combination of new development, development of vacant lots within the city and rehabilitation of existing homes, predominately geared toward housing needs of those earning $46,400.

Burroughes said in that income range, “There are some projects out there already … and they’re full.”

Last week, Burroughes said she spoke to Cannon Air Force Base officials who reported they have personnel living in hotels because of the rental shortages.

Clovis resident Darrel Nance told the commission that while he supports the plan, he finds the ordinance problematic and expects it will cause issues in the local housing market.

“You essentially wind up poisoning the real estate,” he said,

Nance said he is a commercial banker who previously worked as deputy director of the New Mexico Mortgage Authority and has seen the issues ordinances like the one proposed for Clovis can cause.

He said he was asked to look at the plan by city Commissioner Randall Crowder, who was not present at the meeting.

One of the prime issues is that the ordinance may prevent reuse of affordable housing projects in the future, he said, and it gives the state Mortgage Finance Authority (MFA) power and authority in the city landscape.

Burroughes said the plan is critical to the development of Hotel Clovis, but “what the commission could do at their discretion (later is) change the parameters and that might be advisable.”

Burroughes assured the commission they were voting only in support of the plan as part of what the City Commission will consider with the ordinance.

“The plan drives the ordinance, not the other way around,” she said. “The plan has to be adopted in order for there to be an ordinance … You’re not being asked to do anything with regard to the ordinance.”