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By Karla Pomeroy

BAPC continues to mull downtown housing


March 28, 2019

WORLAND — The Worland Board of Adjustment and Planning Commission continued its discussion of allowing residences in the downtown area with some guidelines starting to emerge.

Worland resident Cheri Bundren spoke to the BAPC at their meeting last Thursday, March 21, expressing support for allowing some type of residential living downtown. She added, however, that she was opposed to residential living that would result in buildings having windows boarded up creating an eyesore like the building on the north side of Big Horn and Seventh.

“It was going to have a residence in the back but now it’s all boarded up. I don’t want them looking like that,” Bundren said.

Board member Mike Dykman said the board has discussed that specific property and when developing residential guidelines for downtown would make it harder so that doesn’t happen again. However, he cautioned, “There’s only so much we can do.”

Worland building official Randy Adams said there is nothing in city regulations prohibiting the windows being boarded up unless it is a viable business, which it is not.

Mayor Jim Gill attended last Thursday’s meeting and said he appreciated the BAPC looking into the issue. He said it is important that the city support the downtown businesses, but noted there are ways to look at allowing residential living that could complement the businesses downtown.

Dan Frederick said renovating some of the downtown properties into residential living would be cost prohibitive so he does not see that there would be a huge demand.

James Donahue noted that 100 years ago people lived above or behind businesses and in order to revitalize the business district “we have to start thinking creatively,” and allowing for both business and residential in one of the properties may make it more affordable.

Other board members agreed, noting one building is 6,000 square feet, but if it was divided between business and residential it might be more affordable if someone didn’t have to rent the full 6,000 square feet.

Board member and acting chairman Landis Benson said that the discussion started after some board members took a Smart Growth class where it was talked about having integrated use of zoning.

Donahue added that the Smart Growth class also taught that businesses needed to cater to millennials who like “walkability” (being able to walk to businesses from their home).

Some guidelines discussed at Thursday’s meeting included having the storefronts remain business storefronts and allowing residences behind or above the storefronts, setting a certain percentage of the building that would need to be run as a business, making sure entrances have recessed access to protect public on the sidewalks from doors swinging out, and discuss parking issues.

Adams said there are a lot of possibilities that the committee can look at.

Benson added that allowing residences in the downtown “has to grow from a cultural view.” Dykman added that the board can help nurture that cultural view but too much legislation can “choke it off.”

The board meets the first and third Thursdays of each month at 11 a.m. at the Worland city council chambers.


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