Sturgeon Bay News Notes

Zoning Changes for Smaller Homes, Lot Sizes

The Sturgeon Bay Common Council has scheduled a Feb. 7 public hearing for a discussion of proposed revisions to the city’s zoning districts.

The changes under consideration for single-family dwellings in R-2 and R-3 districts include a reduction of minimum lot widths from 70 to 50 feet and minimum lot size requirements from 7,500 to 6,000 square feet.

Changes considered for the R-1 district include a reduction from 1,400 to 1,200 square feet as the minimum floor area of livable space. 

Community development director Marty Olejniczak said the revisions that the Plan Commission recommended for R-2 and R-3 districts would “more or less match the historical pattern in the older part of the city” and would be a way of “both legalizing what’s been there for decades as well as allowing new areas to develop that way, should the city have a new area zoned in those two districts.”

The change in R-1 is to allow slightly smaller homes to “make it easier for new homes to get developed at a reasonable cost,” Olejniczak said.

District 4 alder Spencer Gustafson said the changes would make “the idea of owning your own home a little more obtainable.”

Following a public hearing on the proposed zoning revisions, Olejniczak said the council will need to hold first and second readings on the changes to adopt those zoning text amendments.

Plans Halted for J-1 Apartments

Plans to convert a single-family dwelling at 114 N. 7th Ave. in Sturgeon Bay – the former site of a bed-and-breakfast – into apartments for J-1 visa student workers will not be proceeding.

A public hearing on the proposed project was deleted from the Jan. 18 agenda of the city’s Plan Commission after the property owners – Jurgita and David Kana – determined that construction costs to make the conversion would be too expensive, according to community development director Marty Olejniczak. 

The Kanas, former J-1 visa student workers themselves, purchased the property in 2021 and had intended to convert the 5,000-square-foot building into four one-bedroom apartment units, living in one of them and renting the other three.

Grant Avenue and Sawyer Drive Will Finally Connect

A longstanding dispute for the City of Sturgeon Bay to obtain property to connect Grant Avenue and Sawyer Drive on the city’s west side has been resolved.

Rather than go to court to take title to the property under eminent domain, the Sturgeon Bay Common Council approved a settlement Jan. 17 to purchase 4.5 acres of property from Tim Ruenger for $80,000. Ruenger owns approximately 36 acres in that area and had previously declined to sell to the city. The land he has agreed to sell includes 2.44 acres for a right-of-way where an unpaved roadway already existed and 2.06 acres for stormwater retention. 

The city and Ruenger began negotiating a purchase agreement after the city initiated an eminent-domain process, which resulted in the city receiving an appraisal of the land and Ruenger obtaining his own appraisal at city expense.

Mayor David Ward said the two appraisals came in at $28,000 and $104,000, respectively. City officials then sought a negotiated property sale with Ruenger and his attorney, rather than incurring additional legal expenses by going to court to obtain the property under eminent domain. 

A connection of Grant Avenue to Sawyer Drive is included in Sturgeon Bay’s comprehensive plan to provide another outlet for residents in that part of the city. Currently, Grant Avenue feeds only onto Highway 42/57, where left-hand turns are difficult during the heavy tourist-traffic season. 

District 4 alder Spencer Gustafson said that connecting the two roads will be “an amazing amenity to have and a safer way to maneuver [through] the town other than use the highway.” 

Lot Rezoned at Former Woldt’s Corner

The Sturgeon Bay Common Council gave final approval Jan. 17 to rezone a lot from General Commercial to Mixed Residential-Commercial where a house is located behind the three-unit commercial building that’s being constructed at the southwest corner of Highway 42/57 and Duluth Avenue (County S). 

The 15,857-square-foot lot with an existing house was created in a certified survey map that split the former Woldt’s Corner parcel into two. The other lot to the north is where the new commercial building, expected to be completed this spring, is being constructed for a Starbucks, a Door County Medical Center clinic and an AT&T retail store. 

The south part of the property had cottages that were removed when the new development started. The home that remains qualifies as a single-family dwelling under the city code, and Richard Robinson, agent for 911 Green Bay Road Partners and the developer of the commercial building, wants to sell the house. 

Community development director Marty Olejniczak said the rezoning brings the existing residence into conformance with city code and makes it easier for the owner to renovate and expand the building, while still allowing for future commercial uses of that site.

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