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Village Seeks Bay-Lake Help on Zoning

Egg Harbor officials disagree on where to allow small houses on small lots

Where should the Village of Egg Harbor allow small lots of 10,000 square feet or less and homes of 1,000 square feet or less?

After more than an hour of discussion on May 28, the village plan commission members could not agree on that subject.

The commission – which has been working for the past year on a complete redo of the village zoning ordinance – will pass along its notes and the commissioners’ varying opinions to Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission.

The village board had approved in January a memorandum of understanding to have Bay-Lake Regional Planning provide support and guidance related to an update of its zoning ordinance and maps. Bay-Lake’s Brandon Robinson instructed the village to review dimensional requirements for each district, ranging from lot size and building size to setback restrictions.

“When updating your zoning ordinance, it isn’t so much that you’re trying to fix every issue from the past, but more so ensuring that any future growth is appropriately regulated and consistent with the development types/patterns as mentioned in the village’s 20-year comprehensive plan,” Robinson had advised the village at that time.

The current zoning map renamed the downtown core area in 2022 from multiple-use to C-1 Commercial. The current zoning lists several existing residential areas such as Point Beach, Alpen Lane and White Cliff Road as R-1 residential. The current map has several areas northeast of the downtown zoned RR (rural residential), and several residential and resort areas – Eames Farm, and Alpine and Newport resorts and land just north of the downtown along state Highway 42 – as Recreational. The village will eliminate the Recreational district, which currently includes residences and several businesses, such as the Alpine Resort and golf course.

The commissioners have proposed to keep the C-1 Downtown Commercial District and to create C-2 Commercial; C-3 Mixed/Multi Use Commercial; R-1 Residential; and Rural Residential classifications. Currently, Rural Residential districts allow residential lots no smaller than one acre.

The commission’s current proposal would permit multi-unit apartments in the C-2 and C-3 districts, and would allow multi-unit dwellings or developments with an approved conditional-use permit in the R-1 and C-1 downtown districts. The commissioners agree that they want to encourage ground-floor commercial businesses with second- or third-floor residential units in the downtown area. 

The commissioners do not agree, however, on the size of residential lots to allow in the different districts. Nor do they agree on where to allow small homes – 1,200 square feet, 1,000 feet or even 800 feet or less.

“I don’t think we’re getting anywhere,” Village Administrator Megan Sawyer said after lengthy, but civil, discussions.

Opinions on lot sizes expressed by commissioners Kathy Navis and Chris Roedl opposed the positions of fellow commissioners and Point Beach residents Jon Kolb and Lou Nyberg.

Kolb said many lots in the century-old Point Beach neighborhood are 10,000 square feet or less, but the current village zoning allows a minimum-size lot of 20,000 square feet for home construction. New owners in his district, zoned R-1, buy two or more lots and put their homes on those. Kolb said his ranch-style house occupies two lots, and he bought six lots surrounding his home as a buffer.

Kolb said if the village allowed residential lots of 10,000 square feet or less and he sold the six lots separately, he could envision six small homes being constructed and used for short-term rentals. 

He and Nyberg, whose home sits on three lots, firmly opposed lots smaller than 20,000 in Point Beach.

Roedl criticized Kolb as showing a personal not-in-my-backyard bias, and Kolb and Nyberg confirmed that they do not want to see small lots or small homes in Point Beach. Kolb remarked that not many people buy their first, small home along or near the bay shore. Nyberg said if there were small lots and small homes allowed in a neighborhood like Point Beach, the prices would go high and the homes most likely would be short-term rentals. 

Roedl said if the village is serious about allowing people to have small homes on small lots, the plan commission should allow small homes in residential districts. Later, Roedl said he would be in favor of allowing small homes in residential areas that are “minimally developed.”

The commissioners had different suggestions for where to allow small homes, and also discussed the consequences of not allowing them. In the end, the commission discussed updating the comprehensive plan next month to include a priority to allow small lots and small homes in some locations. 

Sawyer said the plan commission has completed the work that it can, and it’s time for the village to request that assistance. Commissioner Kathy Navis agreed.

“I think we need help,” she said.

A copy of the plan can be found at tinyurl.com/9w7rymte.