Baldwin board approves new rules for residences

Zoning amendment addresses downtown apartments

BALDWIN -- An amendment to the village of Baldwin zoning ordinance will now allow the downtown commercial district to incorporate residential development by allowing upper-floor residential dwellings above commercial uses.

The Baldwin Board of Trustees adopted the amendment at its meeting on Nov. 11.

The new amendment requires owners of commercial buildings to apply for a special land use permit in order to establish residential dwellings on the upper floors of the buildings.

The village ordinance previously had no provision for upper-floor dwellings.

Planning and zoning administrator Robert Toland said the impetus for the amendment to the ordinance was the owner of the old Masonic Lodge Building downtown inquiring about the possibility of including upper floor apartments to the building.

"This is not unusual for downtown buildings, but I couldn't find anything about it in the current ordinance," he said. "I addressed it with the planning commission and we worked out the provisions for it over a couple of months."

According to the ordinance, upper floors may be used for residential purposes if the dwelling "conforms to all requirements of the building code" and to "all lot, yard and bulk requirements" of the principal building.

Upper-floor residences are required to have an exterior entrance separate from the business entrance and have no less than two on-site parking spaces.

Required minimum gross floor areas of any such dwelling are 480 square feet for a studio, 600 square feet for a one bedroom apartment, 750 square feet for a two bedroom and 900 square feet for a three bedroom.

Following a public hearing on the ordinance amendment in September, the planning commission recommended adoption of the change to the village council.

The amendment will become effective on Wednesday, Nov. 20.

According to Toland, the amendment will not affect current owners of buildings with upper-level residents, because "zoning is not retro active."

Copies of the ordinance amendment can be seen at the village offices.