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Housing Goal 1

The Town’s housing stock will be sufficiently diverse to meet the needs of residents in all phases of life and at all income levels.

1.1 Promote Housing Diversity

STRATEGY: Encourage the development a diverse range of housing types and sizes in the community, while ensuring that the integrity of existing residential neighborhoods is preserved.

JUSTIFICATION: A diverse housing stock, in terms of price points, types and sizes, will help Shepherdstown attract and retain residents with similarly diverse backgrounds and incomes. A healthy community provides housing for residents in all stages of life and at all income levels. This allows residents to stay in their community as life circumstances and incomes change over time, leading to a stronger and more stable residential base.

1.2 Incentivize Affordable Housing Development

STRATEGY: Explore revising the zoning ordinance to provide density bonuses for development proposals that set aside a minimum threshold of dwelling units that will be made available at price points that are affordable for working families.

JUSTIFICATION: If properly incentivized, the development of affordable housing can be profitable for developers. This is particularly true if the density or intensity of permitted development is increased proportionally to the developer’s investment in affordable housing. By allowing more density, a developer can reduce their overall per unit investment costs, thereby allowing them to set aside a greater number of units to meet an affordable housing goal.

1.3 Require Minimum Inclusions of Affordable Housing

STRATEGY: Consider using “inclusionary” zoning regulations to help facilitate the development of workforce housing in conjunction with residential development proposals.

JUSTIFICATION: If an incentive based strategy cannot fulfill the local market demand for affordable housing, then alternative method of brining more workforce oriented housing to town would be to require its inclusion as a certain percentage of an overall development proposal. Such regulations, which typically require a 5% to 15% set aside of “affordable” units, can be a more effective tool than incentives since they mandate it, thereby guaranteeing that each development proposal will contain a certain number of workforce oriented dwelling units. If left up to the market through an incentive based approach, there is no guarantee that an affordable housing goal will be met, though mandatory inclusions are often resisted by developers.

1.4 Promote the use of Tax Credits for Historic Homes

STRATEGY: Promote the use of federal tax credits for the restoration of income producing residential structures within the National Register District.

JUSTIFICATION: Preserving the existing stock of historic homes in Shepherdstown will help to strengthen the town’s neighborhoods and maintain the character of the community. While restoring an historic home in a manner that is consistent with its historic character can be a daunting task, both financially and technically, the use of federal tax credits can allow the owners of income producing residential properties with the extra financial resources needed to help restore their properties. Promoting the use of this incentive based funding option to the owners of these properties will help to build awareness of the program, and could lead to an increase in their use in the community, thereby strengthening the town’s historic housing stock.

1.5 Ensure Adequate Housing for Senior Citizens

STRATEGY: Conduct a housing needs analysis to identify any gaps in the local housing market for housing oriented toward senior citizens, and if gaps are identified, work with developers to identify opportunities in the community to construct such housing.

JUSTIFICATION: As residents age out of larger homes, due to a variety of reasons, small towns, such as Shepherdstown, often do not have sufficient housing options available for these residents to continue to reside in their community. Conducting a needs analysis will help the town understand whether there are any gaps in the market for senior housing and give it the ability to work with developers to close those gaps through the construction of this type of housing.

1.6 Expand Opportunities for Accessory Dwellings

STRATEGY: Conduct a study of the Town’s regulations governing accessory dwelling units to determine whether the locations where they are permitted should be expanded and the types of regulations that are necessary to make them compatible within established neighborhoods.

JUSTIFICATION: Permitting accessory dwellings in established single family residential neighborhoods can provide a wide range of benefits to a community. For homeowners, the ability to lease an accessory apartment can provide much needed income, particularly where housing costs are high. The community as a whole can also benefit from an increase in the availability of housing and a corresponding increase in population. The use of accessory dwellings also helps to fill gaps in the multi-family rental market, which would otherwise be filled by the construction of apartment complexes, which may not be as well maintained over time as accessory dwellings dispersed throughout the community on owner occupied properties.