WILLCOX — In the aftermath of the recently closed Housing Development and Community needs survey conducted by the city of Willcox, the Planning and Zoning Commission met to discuss the results of the survey with City Manager Caleb Blaschke and Cochise County Planning and Zoning planner Christine McLachlan. McLachlan joined the meeting via online video conferencing.
The two biggest areas of discussion to come out of the commission’s examination of the city of Willcox’s survey were accessory dwellings and mixed-use commercial developments.
The survey had 117 total responders, four of whom were Spanish speakers.
Blaschke has previously expressed how folks, based on the survey results and previous city council meetings, are very interested in the idea of building-accessory dwellings to be used as mother-in-law living quarters.
Ninety-three individuals (79.49 %) were in favor of building-accessory dwellings to be used as mother-in-law living quarters, while 24 individuals (20.51 %) were opposed to the idea.
The final amount of people interested in accessory-dwelling housing was the same as those who are opposed to the idea, 48.
One of the concerns regarding accessory dwelling housing that Councilman Paul Sheats brought is how people are limited in terms of space — for example, a neighbor who owns a lot of space adjacent to your property, but who isn’t willing to allow you to build adjacent living quarters.
When it came down to the mixed-use discussion, Blaschke and Sheats echoed each other when it came to looking into the issue of those business owners who wish to live either above or behind their business.
Both agreed with the rest of the commission and McLachlan that the matter needed to be looked into further, along with any issues that might arise from someone choosing to live in an RV behind their business.
Another area of concern is how to zone appropriately for housing that is separate from a business.
Eighty-six individuals (73.35 %) were in favor of “mixed-use developments within commercial areas of the city,” while 31 individuals (26.49 %) were opposed.
Forty individuals (34.19 %) said they would be “very unlikely to consider living in a mixed-use building,” while only 17 (14.53 %) said they “would be likely to consider living in a mixed used building” and only six individuals (5.13 %) said they “would be very likely to consider living in a mixed-use building.”
The number of those who own a business and would be interested in residing either above or behind their business needs to be looked into further. Local winemaker Mark Phillips lives in the apartment above the Golden Rule Vineyards taproom, so he is an example of how such an arrangement of living quarters can work.
Of those individuals who own a business in the Willcox area, only 12 (10.26 %) said they feel their “employees have housing options in Willcox,” while 21 individuals (17.95 %) said no to the same question.
The two major areas of discussion that Blaschke said will be at the forefront of the next Planning and Zoning Commission in May are Air BnB’s — what the city will allow — and a further discussion of mixed-use commercial development housing zoning options.
Sheats added that mother-in-law quarters could potentially become Air Bnb’s, “if she dies.” He also revealed to the Herald/Review after the meeting that his role on the commission is strictly as an advisor with no voting privileges.