Downtown Bayfield residential density could increase

Bayfield Town Manager Chris La May is floating the idea of allowing more residential density in the old downtown area.

He presented the idea to town trustees on June 17.

That part of town has three zoning designations - Town Center north of Mill Street, Mill Street itself, and R-10 single family residential south of Mill Street.

"I've had requests on both south and north" of Mill Street, La May said, both involving conversion of a garage to living space. "Town Center was intended to be mixed use with more density. It allows for multi-family but not two detached dwellings."

In the R-10 area south of Mill Street, La May said, "We allow ADUs (accessory dwelling units) there. The challenge is the applicant wants to be able to eventually rent out both units. (Under current rules) The owner must occupy one of the units. ... If you don't have interest in this, we won't move forward."

Mayor Pro Tem Michelle Nelson commented, "I think the planning commission should look at it. We just did ADUs recently with a bunch of public comment, so I'd be less inclined to change that. At the time, the discussion was if you have a property owner living there, it's better taken care of."

ADUs are limited to 700 square feet, La May said. Currently they don't have to have a separate water meter from the main dwelling.

In his staff memo, La May said ADUs are allowed in R-10, R-20, and R-40 zones, but not in the Town Center Zone. Attached duplexes, townhomes or multi-family units are allowed as a conditional use in the Town Center zone.

Higher residential density is allowed with second story units in the Mill Street or Business zoning districts, but not detached second dwelling units, La May said.

Trustees did not give a clear direction on whether to proceed. Code changes may be initiated by property owners, town residents, town trustees or planning commissioners, La May reported. He told the Times that he will present the issue at the July 8 planning commission meeting.