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Town approves Clover Meadows sketch plan

Bayfield town trustees approved the sketch plan Tuesday for new home development in the Clover Meadows neighborhood. They had a far larger audience than usual for a town board meeting.

Traffic, safety of kids walking to the elementary school, property values for current Clover Meadows residents, and irrigation ditch issues were the main concerns, as they were on March 14 when planning commissioners reviewed the plan and recommended approval.

The proposal on 24.34 acres has 63 lots zoned in a mix of R-10 and high density single family residential, and including seven multi-family lots that could accommodate up to 82 units based on one unit per 2,000 square feet.

The developers must put more money into engineering as the proposal progresses, including traffic impact and infrastructure analyses, Town Manager Chris La May told trustees.

"They will follow with the preliminary plan if they have enough comfort to move forward," he said.

There would be significant issues with the Schroder Ditch, which is just east and uphill from the proposed development, he said.

"The applicant wants clarification on that to be able to say whether to move forward."

Project representative Eric Nelson said piping the ditch "would be impossible financially for the applicant."

He asserted, "Ultimately, this (continuation of Clover Meadows development) has been planned or semi-planned for a long time. It's an excellent location for a subdivision. The town needs lots."

Ditch representative Paul Black said, "We're concerned about seepage from the ditch that could affect the subdivision. We hope to meet with the applicant Monday. This is the first development (in Bayfield) in quite a while," but that could be changing, and there could be ditch issues with other new development as well. He suggested a group effort to address those.

Town attorney Jeff Robbins told trustees, "You don't judge what's economically feasible or not" for a developer.

"They're asking for a lot of homes here. I'd take away the concern about economics and look at what's important to make it work for the developer, the ditch company, the kids."

Trustee Rachel Davenport said school-related traffic on Clover Drive isn't just from Mesa Meadows. It's parents from the whole area.

Gary Phelps, who lives on Daylily Drive, said Clover Meadows is a nice residential neighborhood, and he worries this project could reduce that.

"I'm concerned about my property values. When I moved there, nothing was ever said about multi-family housing. Your house is one of your largest investments in your lifetime. I'm close to retirement.

"All the promises in the world can be made here, but things change, and not always for the best."

Tony Hudspeth, an officer with the Clover Meadows HOA board, also opposed the proposed development.

"I regret that I wasn't at the meeting last week. This affects us all," he said.

"The proposed development shows why we need zoning rules. The current zoning provides a wide variety of housing including 'affordable' or 'low income' housing. The county now has an abundance of affordable housing, some concentrated in Bayfield."

He objected to high-density housing near an established neighborhood and the impact on property values.

La May clarified to The Times that the high density residential (HDR) category allows lots ranging from 7,500 to 12,500 square feet, with an average of at least 10,000 square feet. With R-10 zoning, 10,000 square feet is the minimum.

Nelson disagreed on negative effects on property values and cited the Dove Ranch subdivision "where property values have gone up.

"There's a large difference between high-density and low-income housing. That's not what this is. It will be similar to Dove Ranch."

The multi-family lots just north of the existing Clover Meadows homes are already zoned for that, he added.

"In my opinion, this type of subdivision is really good for a town financially," with more homes per block of town infrastructure.

Trustee Michelle Yost said she'd like more R-10 lots versus the high-density lots, or get the average for the high-density lots up to 10,000 square feet.

"I'm not opposed to high-density residential as a concept. Dove Ranch has done a great job with it. ...

"I personally think it's important for this development to happen. We all need to work together" on the ditch issues.

She agreed the issue will keep coming up when other subdivisions are proposed.

"We're going to grow," Yost said.

"New development is great. We've run out of lots. It's important for this town to attract businesses, restaurants, a name brand grocery store."

Trustees' approval of the sketch plan included a requirement to get the average size of the high-density lots up to 10,000 square feet.