By 2050, Bayfield is projected to have an increased population of residents 65 and older, along with a growth in millennials aged 25 to 44.
As home prices continue to skyrocket in Durango, that leaves Bayfield as the growth center for La Plata County.
That was the message from two consultants from RG and Associates, who presented an almost-final version of Bayfield’s new comprehensive plan to residents on Wednesday night at Bayfield Town Hall.
The plan is not set in stone, explained Jen Henninger, one of the consultants, but a framework for a community to refer to for the future, looking 25 to 50 years ahead. Bayfield last updated its comp plan in 2005.
“It identifies ways to assure that the community will continue to function efficiently and effectively as it grows,” according to the website for the plan, at www.planbayfield.com.
The plan includes proposed future land-use classifications, future growth area boundaries, and draft plan recommendations.
Part of the consultants’ work was to plow through 32 previous plans and studies for the town and distill them into usable recommendations.
The previous studies covered utilities and infrastructure; transportation; economic development; land use; environment and recreation; housing; risk assessment and water efficiency.
Residents attending Wednesday night’s session had questions on what uses were identified for their property, as well as issues such as parks and downtown Bayfield.
“I don’t want our property rights infringed upon,” said Stan Wilmer.
That is not the town’s intent, said Town Manager Chris LaMay.
While some residents might be concerned about a planning classification of “high-density,” that’s already in place in subdivisions such as Dove Ranch and Fox Farm, Henninger explained.
The downtown area is recommended to retain its mixed-use classification, leaving for a mix of residential and commercial uses.
“I think it’s the right direction,” for the town to follow, said Mayor Matt Salka. While the plan doesn’t dictate what property owners can or can’t do with their land, “it provides guidance for us,” Salka said.
One downtown resident said his property has become almost surrounded by streets, so moving it into commercial use makes sense.
Chrissy Moiseve asked about the old middle school property in downtown Bayfield. The town’s new parks plan said a recreation center would be the best use for the property, but paying for that is the challenge.
LaMay said the town and school district are continuing to discuss long-term uses for the property.
Community members can find draft documents, project calendar, and a link to the preference survey on the project website at www.planbayfield.com. Final comments on the plan are due March 30, LaMay said. He hopes to have final revisions on the plan for the April 10 meeting of the Bayfield Planning Commission, then approval in May. The plan is partially funded through a $50,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, with a local match from the town.