Topic Team: Housing

On Monday, February 20th, a group of citizens met to discuss housing in out community.  They worked through a set of draft goals and policies offering fresh ideas.

The following are some draft goals and policies that came from that specific conversation.  Of course, further comments are welcome from the public.  Feel free to contact the Newton Development Planner, Erin Chambers at erinc@newtongov.org with suggestions or more ideas.

These draft goals and policies will be subject to further review in a public forum before being incorporated into any final document.

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Housing

Goal 1: Improve neighborhood curb appeal.

Rationale:  Maintenance of existing housing and neighborhoods is vital to the health of the community and the housing sector.  Well-maintained neighborhoods, at all price points, attract new people to the community.

 Policy 1: Utilize a property maintenance code through an intensive public process to address community curb appeal and maintenance concerns.  A property maintenance code created by the citizens will be well supported by the community.

 Policy 2: Support the creation of neighborhood associations that can foster self-enforcement of aesthetic and maintenance issues.

 Policy 3:  Support public/private partnerships that systematically remove unlivable units from Newton’s housing inventory utilizing various tools available to the community, both private and public in nature.

 Goal 2:  Encourage local development partnerships between the City, Development Professionals, Non-profit Organizations, and Financial Institutions.

 Rationale:  Development of single-family homes to large-scale multi-family developments always requires the involvement of a number of entities- City permitting officials, banks/lenders, architects, builders, etc.  Forward thinking communities make the connections between these groups before any development proposal is ever presented to the community.

 Policy 1: Support Newton Housing Development Corporation and other non-profit housing development entities.

 Policy 2:  The City, Development Professionals, Non-profits, and Financial Institutions should all utilize the same housing plan to ensure that everyone is working together and not inadvertently working against each other.  In December 2011, The Newton CHAT Repot: A Community Housing Assessment Team Study was completed and should be the guiding document for housing development for the near future.

 Goal 3:  Fill the gaps in particular niche housing.

 Rationale:  Newton competes with other Central Iowa communities in being a “community of choice”.  The gaps in niche housing- such as high-end town home/condo developments, student housing, housing with easy access to the interstate, and so on, pushes some to other nearby communities, such as Ankeny or Altoona.

Policy 1:  Promote the creation of rental housing units that can serve as student housing for the Des Moines Area Community College.  Near campus housing will foster further growth of the DMACC population and presence in the community, creating further stimulus in many sectors of Newton’s economy.

 Policy 2:  Develop a Planned Unit Development ordinance that will better accommodate creative housing projects while still meeting the density requirements of the underlying zones.  A Planned Unit Development ordinance would make it possible to consider housing projects that can offer various housing types while still performing in a similar manner to the underlying zone.

 Policy 3:  Develop a plan for downtown with housing as a key component and utilize historic preservation incentives to grow and enhance downtown housing options.

Goal 4:  Grow Newton’s Population.

 Rationale:  This is the ultimate goal for the community, and the provision of desirable housing is an important component in attracting people to the community.

 Policy 1:  Increase Newton’s population by using its assets and geography to attract regional residents.

 Policy 2:  Recognize the connection between growing employment opportunities and providing desired housing for those future employees.  Utilize existing employers as a resource to continually evaluate Newton’s housing stock and determine if there are gaps in the market.

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