How much land do I need to build a home in the Town?

Q&A Town of Russell Zoning Overlay District

1. Why do I have to have 9.5-acres of land if I want to build a house?

A. You do not need 9.5-acres of land to build a house. If your lot size is less than 9.5-acres and was in existence before August 30, 2005 the lot is grandfathered and buildable subject to the current Bayfield County Zoning Ordinance. If you have a parcel of land that you want to divide into more than 1 lot and cannot make them 9.5-acres each, you need to do an alternative development. Please note that zoning districts of Industrial, Commercial and Conservancy are a lot size minimum of 5-acres to build and Forestry 2 and Agriculture 2 are a lot size minimum of 35-acres to build without an alternative development.

B. Zoning districts of R-RB and Forestry 1 and Agriculture 1 are the most common in the Town of Russell. County Minimum Size Town of Russell Minimum Size R-RB & R-1 0.69–acres 9.5-acres F-1, R-2 & A-1 4.5-acres 9.5-acres R-3 2-acres 9.5-acres F-2 & A-2 35-acres 35-acres I & C 0.46-acres 5-acres R-4 (a,b,c) 0.23 to 0.46-acres 9.5-acres C. Zoning has this restrictive covenant on dividing lands zoned F-1 – “A lot created by the subdivision of a parcel of land in an F-1 zoning district into three (3) or more lots of less than ten (10) acres each within a five (5) year period, regardless of any change(s) in ownership during such period, may not be improved with a single family dwelling or duplex unless the subdivision has been approved as a Conservation Subdivision meeting the requirements of Section 13-1-29A or an Alternative Development meeting the requirements of Section 13-1-63(e).”


2. What is an example of what I can do if I have 40-acres of land and I want to subdivide it?

A. R-RB – The Town requires 35% of the land be keep as open space. 40-acres x 35% = 14-acres. 65% is developable or 26-acres. 26-acres divided by 0.69-acres = 38 lots maximum**.

B. A-1 & F-1 – The Town requires 45% of the land be keep as open space. 40-acres x 45% = 18-acres. 55% is developable or 22-acres. 22-acres divided by 4.5-acres = 5 lots maximum**. ** You still need to meet the provisions of the Bayfield County Subdivision Control Ordinance.


3. What can I do if I want more lots than the alternative development allows?

A. You may be able to re-zone your property to a different zoning district. As an example, if you are planning to divide land zoned Agriculture into building lots then the use is not necessarily going to be for agriculture. You could petition for a zoning district amendment to R-R

B. This would allow for a larger number of buildable lots. Changes to the zoning district would need to be consistent with the Comprehensive plan and future land use within the Town.


4. Why doesn’t the Town just follow the Bayfield County Zoning Ordinance instead of their own alternative development?

A. The Town developed a Land Use Map and subsequently a Comprehensive Plan guiding future development in the Town. The Town Board and developers of the Comprehensive Plan wanted to discourage the concept of “checker board” development in the Town. The Alternative Development was a tool to allow development and encourage the creation of undeveloped open spaces and/or forested areas.

B. The Town has not felt that the alternative development has adversely affected development within the Town. The alternative developments approved to date have seemed to achieve the goal to protect our “rural character”. The Town is not aware of anyone who has expressed opposition to this.


5. I have an alternative development but want to sell larger parcels of land. Can I do that?

A. Yes. If you have an alternative development of several lots you could sell 2, 3 or more lots together or all of the lots to one buyer. The buyer could build on the lots per the designated buildable areas and possibly sell the other lots in the future as buildable lots if they so choose.


6. Can I still do a Conservation Subdivision in the Town of Russell?

A. Yes. The minimal open space would be determined by the zoning district(s) and the remaining developable space developed as a Conservation Subdivision under the Bayfield County Zoning Ordinance.


7. Is the Town of Russell Overlay District zoning administered by the Town Board?

A. No. The Town of Russell does not have zoning authority nor does it administer zoning. The Town Board petitioned Bayfield County Zoning to amend the Bayfield County Zoning Ordinance to include some provisions that are only applicable to the Town of Russell. The Towns of Bayfield, Barnes, Drummond and Namekagon also have special zoning provisions of the Bayfield County Zoning Ordinance that only apply to their Towns. Bayfield County Zoning administers all of these as a part of the County Zoning Ordinance. They review, approve, issue permits and enforce zoning within the Town of Russell and these other Towns.


8. Does the Town Alternative Development Plan over ride various aspects of the Bayfield County Zoning Ordinance.

A. No. The Alternative Development Plan requirement is in addition to the requirements of the County Zoning Ordinance. You can do those things allowed by Bayfield County Zoning Ordinance once you have meet the requirements of the Alternative Development.


9. I think the Alternative Development is just a bunch of rules making it more difficult to develop my land or give my kids their own building lots?

A. Again, the Town Board looked at ways to preserve our “rural character” and still allow for reasonable development within the Town. We understand that rules (zoning ordinances) can be confusing and difficult to understand. Also, they may not always allow a person to do exactly what they want to do all the time. We believe most needs can be met with the current Alternative Development but may require some compromises. Even if the Town did not have Alternative Development there may be times the current zoning ordinances would not allow for the things an individual would like to do.


10. I think the Town of Russell should have its own zoning?

A. This is not practical nor cost effective. Currently only 1/3 of the Town of Russell is subject to the Bayfield County Zoning Ordinance. The other 2/3 of the lands are Federal, County, State or Tribal. Maintaining a zoning ordinance and administering zoning ordinances would be very expensive to the Town tax payers. This is the reason the Town would not consider this option.


11. I think the Town should not have any zoning?

A. This would not be a good idea. Some aspects of zoning such as sanitary permits would still be required. Having no guidelines or rules on development and subdivision of land would not serve the interests of current or future residents of the Town.


12. The Town Alternative Development is impossible to understand. Hardly anyone I talk to says they understand it. This is a problem?

A. Zoning Ordinances, by their nature, are very difficult to understand. Most zoning rules get developed over time to address issues or perceived issues with development(s) that are unwanted or inappropriate or adversely affect others. This is why zoning ordinances are “restrictive” in nature verses supportive or promotional to development. Zoning is a balancing act of sorts. Preserving what some people have while allowing reasonable use of property for others.


13. Why does the Town have a Historic Site Overlay?

A. The Town Board believes there are physical sites within the Town that are significant in the Towns early history. The Historic Site Overlay provides a mechanism to codify and preserve the memory of these sites. This would allow for the long term preservation of this knowledge for future generations of Town residents and others interested in the early history of the Town. While there may be other ways to preserve and document this information, the Town Board elected to utilize the Bayfield County Zoning Ordinance to accomplish this.


14. Why does the Town have an Old-Growth Overlay District?

A. The purpose of this is to discourage development and disturbance to the natural environment in areas with old-growth/virgin timber and provide areas where native flora and fauna may prosper in a natural habitat. There are very few areas in the Town that fall into this category and the Town Board felt a mechanism to achieve this was important and consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.