Trafalgar moving forward with mixed-use zoning ordinance

The Trafalgar Town Council is moving forward with establishing the town’s first mixed-use zoning ordinance.

An amendment to the town’s current zoning ordinance was introduced during a town council meeting Thursday to include mixed-use development and planned unit development as new zoning classifications. Property owners will be able to petition for a rezone of their property through the new ordinance once it becomes law.

For the past three to four months, the Trafalgar Planning Commission has worked on the proposed amendment to the town’s zoning ordinance. They certified the ordinance with a favorable recommendation to adopt the proposal into town code after a public hearing on Nov. 13.

The move to establish mixed-use zoning is a correction for Trafalgar’s history of turning a blind eye to residents living in commercially zoned properties, without a proper rezone. These issues boiled over starting in November 2022 when the town council issued two zoning violation letters to fellow council member, Jeff Eisenmenger.

Town council members passed the amendment by consensus on first reading with two members absent Tuesday. A final motion will be heard at next month’s meeting on Dec. 7.

The changes will take effect in 2024 if the amendment is approved, said Bryan Gregg, Trafalgar’s building commissioner.

“We understand the importance of a smooth transition, so we have plans in place to identify existing properties which may qualify for mixed-use, as well as guidelines set in place to ensure properties are safe and the well-being of the tenants are protected,” Gregg said.

Guidelines are also in place to assist current and future property owners with future business development. Officials said the goal of the ordinance is to allow “thoughtful growth” while maintaining small-town charm.

“We want to strike a balance between preserving our small-town character and fostering sustainable development,” Gregg said. “The new zoning will create opportunities for local business, offer diverse housing options and enhance the overall quality of life in our community.”

Trafalgar has multiple properties that could be rezoned to mixed-use or planned unit development. Amending the zoning requirements will offer “an incredible amount of opportunity to the community,” Gregg said. The planned unit development is a “necessary tool” for development in Trafalgar, town attorney Jacob Bowman said.

“One makes it easy to plan the inner developments, both of which the planning commission felt would be helpful in wrangling in some of the properties that are working out of their home one way or the other,” Bowman said. “And then also to bring in new development, such as a grocery store.”

Residential and non-residential uses such as hardware stores, restaurants, dance studios and more would be permitted under the mixed-use district. Officials hope the new zoning amendments will allow greater flexibility in land development.

“We’re mindful of maintaining sustainable development, and any changes will be implemented with respect to the character of our town,” Gregg said. “While there might be adjustments to new building designs, the goal is to maintain the charm that makes Trafalgar special.”