Melody Ranch Townhomes roofs failing

Repairs for failing roofs at Melody Ranch Townhomes are estimated to cost up to $157,000 per unit and will require residents to move out during construction.

Town and county officials agreed Thursday to pay up to $1.29 million in loans to fix failing roofs at Melody Ranch Townhomes.

The county will pay for 55% of the loan, and the town will pay for 45%. The $1,292,800 will primarily come from fees collected from developers.

“Everyone is trying to do the right thing here,” said April Norton, director of Jackson/Teton County Affordable Housing. “Right now, with the facts we have today, we think this is the fix.”

Roofs are caving in at six affordable fourplexes built in 1996 and 1998. The HOA’s insurance won’t cover faulty construction, and the roofing company is out of business. The housing department has claimed it legally has no liability because it didn’t develop the buildings — a private builder did.

Bids to fix the shared roofs are priced at $160,000 per unit.

The 24 townhome units have deed restrictions meant to keep prices down so they remain affordable for workers, but sunset clauses meant many of those restrictions expired after 20 years of ownership. Currently, eight units are permanently deed restricted as affordable, 13 are now free-market and three more are affordable but will soon be free-market.

Free-market owners normally can finance repairs against the equity in their home, but because the Housing Department’s deed restrictions hold down the value of affordable units, the owners of the eight Melody Ranch Townhomes would struggle to leverage the value of their homes to finance repairs. And because it’s a townhouse complex, those owners share roofs with free-market owners.

The town and county agreed at a joint meeting Thursday to provide a three-year, no-interest $160,000 loan to the eight affordable-unit homeowners so they can have their roofs replaced.

Once repairs are complete, deed restrictions would change to workforce restrictions, increasing the value of the homes by up to $160,000. If homeowners can’t pay the loan back when it’s due, they can opt to pay it back in 10 years with a 3% interest rate. Those homes will remain affordable.

The town and county will also offer to purchase additional deed restrictions on homes that are currently free-market to help those homeowners pay for repairs, authorizing spending up to $1,043,260.

They will pay $100,000 for a workforce restriction, which restricts the home for local workers, or $160,000 for an affordable restriction, which keeps the home price low. With limited funding, housing staff will prioritize buying affordable restrictions.

“If we have an opportunity to transmogrify market housing into workforce or affordable housing, we should at least consider it,” County Commissioner Mark Newcomb said.

However, if the Housing Department runs out of funds for extra restrictions, the town and county boards may have more decisions to make.

“I don’t want to authorize an unlimited amount because we have other opportunities to use those funds,” Commissioner Natalia Macker said.

The homeowners association will have to vote to approve a special assessment to pay to fix the roofs.

Mayor Pete Muldoon said the town and county should create a policy in case other homes in its 800-some portfolio of deed-restricted units have major maintenance problems in the future.

“I do think we need to have a policy at some point that will cover repairs to homes that are developed by private developers and sold to private owners,” Muldoon said. “I don’t think we should do it on an ad hoc basis.”

Contact Allie Gross at 732-7063 or county@jhnewsandguide.com.

Allie Gross covers Teton County government. Originally from the Chicago area, she joined the News&Guide in 2017 after studying politics and Spanish at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

(1) comment

Judd Grossman

What a mess. The sunset provision was a windfall for owners. Town and county shouldn't be in the housing business. We should be allowing expanded workforce deed restricted development in the commercial corridor. The units should have no rent or price caps. Let employers subsidize their own employees, and leave the taxpayer out of it.

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