20-01-31 container Bellevue housing 1 WF.jpg

Shipping container homes in Bellevue could become the new norm as a nontraditional but affordable type of manufactured home. The home to the right is made up of three shipping containers. The accessory dwelling unit to the left is made up of two.

Bellevue residents should be on the lookout for a bond or levy proposal within the next year and a half, following a series of discussions within the City Council to determine the best method of providing better services and undertaking improvements in an economically feasible way.

During a meeting Monday the council looked at a proposed community survey that would ask residents where they think the city’s priorities should be and how they are willing to help pay for improvements. Along with the proposed survey, council members discussed the right number of goals to pursue.

“The fewer goals that we have that we put our energies into, the better,” Councilman Doug Brown said.

Brown suggested a bond to improve city streets, as well as zoning and density changes to allow more housing in the town. The city’s comprehensive plan points to diversifying housing and lot size. Mayor Ned Burns voiced his support for creating a multi-family zoning district.

On Wednesday, city staff—along with curious developers and future homebuyers—took a tour of a new shipping-container home at Fourth and Cedar streets. The home, already purchased by a Wood River High School teacher, is the first of its kind in Bellevue. Following the tour, Community Development Director Diane Shay said she expects there will be more in the near future.

In November 2018, Shay presented to the council the option of allowing tiny homes in the city. At that time, council members asked questions regarding how property taxes would be assessed on the miniature home units and gave the OK to Shay to continue exploring the opportunity and look at other cities that have allowed for tiny homes. During that meeting, Shay said the amount of accessory dwelling-unit applications indicated a need in the community for more affordable housing and that nontraditional housing units could be a solution.

Other areas of potential improvement include water infrastructure and street repairs.

Councilman Greg Cappel suggested roads as the area that needs the most attention, because they have the potential to attract or detract new homeowners and residents.

Funding options might include a bond or a levy. For example, Councilwoman Kathryn Goldman explained, if there were obvious community support for a levy to raise funds for a certain city department, such as the library, the city’s general fund line items for that use could be reallocated and dedicated to another item, such as repairing city streets.

In a follow-up interview Tuesday morning, Burns said that if a bond were to go on a future ballot it likely will not be until May 2021, to allow time for ample public education and outreach.

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