Affordable Housing Plan election Tuesday

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks The Hotel Clovis in downtown Clovis is the center of today’s special election regarding affordable housing.

Kevin Wilson

Voters head to the polls today to decide the fate of an affordable housing plan for the city.

The plan allows an exception to the state’s anti-donation clause for the purpose of affordable housing.

The anti-donation clause states that the city cannot “directly or indirectly lend or pledge its credit, or make any donation to or in aid of any person, association or public or private corporation.” The two allowable amendments are for economic development and affordable housing.

The Clovis City Commission passed the plan May 5 on a 6-1 vote, with Randy Crowder voting no.

Commissioners in favor of the plan point to the renovation of the Hotel Clovis city landmark and the need for new housing for incoming personnel at Cannon Air Force Base.

Crowder said the plan created an uneven playing field for builders and would allow future builders to extract taxpayer-funded benefits they wouldn’t otherwise receive, including forgiveness on permit fees.

The High Plains Patriots citizens group sided with Crowder, and gathered enough petitions to force the referendum election. Ordinances that change city policy are subject to referendum elections if, within 30 days, petitions are submitted with signatures of registered voters within the city limits, in excess of 20 percent of the previous municipal election turnout.

The plan, if approved, would:

• give the city authority to reduce private developers’ permitting fees;

• allow for the donation of city-owned property to private developers;

• give grants and loans to develop city-owned property in the downtown area;

• give grants for weatherization and rehabilitation of privately owned homes;

• and create a housing planning organization.

There are 16,441 city residents eligible to vote in today’s election, City Clerk LeighAnn Melancon said.

She said 726 — 101 absentee and 625 early voters — cast their ballots early.

This is the second referendum election in 2011. The first, a .25 percent increase in gross receipts taxes for 10 years to defray costs of the Ute pipeline project, passed May 3 on a 1,265-1,045 vote. For that election, the city had 380 early voters and 23 absentee votes.