Final step . . . common council . . . have you been paying attention? I haven’t, I gave up a while ago (and it includes my neighborhood!), I have no idea which changes from the Economic Development Commission and others made it in. Lets find out what the lobbyists have to say about it – warning: they love it!
Delora Newton, lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce testified that she been reading books about a running and association and its like running an electric company, people don’t care when everything is working and they complain when the lights go out. She compliments staff and commission members, says it is much better than when it started out, she’s happy that they listened to what she said and that they incorporated their recommendations.
Carole Schaeffer, lobbyist for Smart Growth Madison, she also echos Delora Newton, says it has been a long 4 or 5 years, thanks the staff. There are big issues that they came to compromise on that allow flexibility and keeps Madison’s sense of place. Thanks staff and others – she hopes the same spirit is followed when they work on the zoning code.
Gary Peterson, planner, member of American Institute of Planners for 30 years (and married to Susan Schmitz, lobbyist for Downtown Madison Inc), he says this is a good plan that needs to be adopted. We have a lot of advantages in Madison, we have natural beauty, good location, UW-Madison and the state capitol and progressive attitude. What we have done to launch this plan was good, it was people oriented, has density that leads to walkability, we have mixed use, reoriented ourselves to lake and James Madison Park, we have lakeview apartments and condos, we did Monona Terrace, and some day we will do the improvements to the Edgewater. We replaced manufacturing in the downtown area and we are using their space. This is a plan for a new chapter in our city.
Susan Schmitz, lobbyist for Downtown Madison Inc, representing her 500 members. She thanks everyone. She says it has taken 4 years and wondered why it takes so long. She says its because we all love Madison and we take ownership in it and this plan mattered. If that is the case, a plan like this it would take 4 years. We came to the table with different visions for the downtown. The important thing is, we all came to the table. (bk comment: Some of us just lasted a lot longer because we were paid to be there.) She says the working groups were excellent, thanks for listening to DMI comments during those discussions, they are very pleased and hopes they it. They are excited to get this approved. Thanks staff individually. She says that since DMI contracts to the BID (Business Improvement District) she can put on that hat and she thanks them for the improvements to State St.
Pete Ostlind, from Capitol Neighborhoods Inc, he thanks them for another opportunity to speak. He says they all laughed when they said they didn’t expect any more changes, but he said he’d suggest one. He says that he urged them to delete recommendation 71, which linked W. Mifflin to W. Washington and he urged they be separated. He says that W. Washington deserves to be its own district. Start on page 36 1st 2 paragraphs, add object 4.4 on page 37 and recommendation 77 – 80. That would treat the district separately. Recommendation 78 allows two more stories in that district if they are stepped back he says that people’s concept of that was a rear yard condition more than a step back – he says they might want to look at that. Recommendation 79 he’d like to see stronger language about preserving the character, so that it isn’t just parking and loading areas. Also would like them to look at comments about higher density, higher than what? There are 5 notations about that, in different areas and he thinks the that it means in relation to older buildings, not buildings built in the last 10 years or so.
Eric Sundquist asks about the numbers, Ostlind clarifies it was the numbers in the staff report he was referring to, not the plan. He says they might include stronger language about the terraces.
Larry Lichte, owner of several properties on W Main (by the Inn on the Park), he is very supportive, but has issues with setbacks and height restrictions. He has assembled much of the block with the temporary library, Tornado and his offices and other businesses. The land footprint is 22,000 sq feet. He has attended many, many meetings in the last few years about the reduction from 8 stories to 6 and the 15 foot set back and how it impacts his properties. He is surrounded by larger buildings, there is an 11 story building kitty-corner from his office. It was nice to add the flexibility of the PUD process, but why override a new ordinance, the viewsheds focus on N and S Hamilton St and the future of a building on his his side of the street is unique. The Children’s Museum and the Court House have maxed out. He says the building all around him are taller and he will be in a hole, why should he be restricted? Not many land owners have been to as many meetings as he has in the last few years, he says that if his buildings were 8 stories it would not obstruct the view of the capitol, the courthouse and the condo building pretty much block any view there was from the causeway. His plan should not be objectionable, they should allow 8 stories on his side and remove the 15 foot setback and don’t deprive him of 55,000 sq feet of prime downtown space. That cuts back 30%. He thanks them and would appreciate consideration on these two items.
Alder Mike Verveer thanks them for their hard work over the past 4 years, thanks the commission and staff. Particularly for juggling of this with other projects. He apologizes to the commission, this has been a bunch of cheerleading and u-rah-rah, with the exception of the last two speakers, they have memorandum number 6 and all your hard work, but his apology is that he had not shared his views in some time because of conflicts with the work sessions and meetings he had. Last Monday he was in an 8 hour ALRC meeting that they didn’t think would last so long. And his main remarks are about Mifflin, when you were working on that, he had to go to a neighborhood meeting, he hasn’t had much luck with you. So, he appreciates their indulgence, he says that the fourth district is entirely in the downtown plan and he has represented that area for quite some time, so he feels comfortable sharing his thoughts. Overall he is pleased, it is set in a direction where Common Council will unanimously adopt the plan. He would have a higher comfort level in casting an enthusiastic vote for it. He thinks the flexibility is good, so before his friends in the development community and lobbyists get all excited, he supports PDDs. He thinks council will support the continued flexibility, so he agrees that it would be wise to have a special district for 400 and 500 blocks of W Washington which can be done easily. He also wants a recommended height to be the same in the Mifflin Neighborhood the same as W. Washington. In memo 6, replace language in 73, change 2 – 6 stories, with language from recommendation for 78, to 2 to 4 stories. His main concern is that he appreciates step backs and thinks that future of Mifflin neighborhood would be better if stepbacks were required at least to W Dayton. He says that the Mifflin concept map, does not recognize the generous stepbacks on page 37. With the past few years, he thinks they talked about requiring stepbacks, er, recommending, since they have flexibility with the PUD. It’s really just a recommendation. He also wants them to consider stronger language on page 36, on the Mifflin language, he says they talk about lofts and he is concerned that they will see implications with 6 story recommended heights and will do it without a plan, he would like stronger language for comprehensive planning, including design guidelines or Urban Design District. He says its been frustrating not to dome to the meetings and even more frustrating not to be able to view them on City Channel. So, he hasn’t been privy to all the discussions. So, with due respect, he requests these changes. He says he wants the additional language about the formerly called bonus stories, he is mostly concerned with the stepbacks. He talks about Washington Court and how successful it is with density and that people don’t realize it is there with the stepbacks. He wants to know if zero lot line buildings is consistent with PUDs and additional stories allowed. He says they have several in the neighborhood and he is wondering if there was discussion about if they would say for zero lot line buildings exceeding the heights to include a step back for 5th and 6th stories. He calls these buildings the “big uglies”. He doesn’t want to close on a negative note, thanks them for their work, he thinks it can be unanimous next week if a few amendments are considered to the plan.
Eric Sunquist asks about the implementation plan for Mifflin, he says 76 is the staff attempt and what would you like to be strengthened. Verveer says that his hope that there is not a freeze on considering applications, but that the sense of urgency be strengthened in the language. He wasn’t the development community to have a sense of certainty, but that before the nature of Mifflin changes, that there be an implementation plan and design guidelines in place. He wants to make sure institutional uses are not welcome there. The UW has said they don’t intend to have institution creep any further into this neighborhood, but mixed uses could be seen as allowing institutional uses in the neighborhood. He likes the loft and artist spaces concept.
Sundquist asks if the issue is on timing.
Yes, Verveer says he realizes they have to adopt the Zoning Text still, he expects them to tell staff to work with him and take it to the council.
Sundquist says that there were lots of concepts discussed and nothing gelled and he wanted the reactions to artist space and loft, this is more intense, form based zoning, and design guidelines would be crucial, but the uses would be flexible. You said University office space would not be ok, we said office, retail residential is ok, so could you react to that.
Verveer says personally, if he had his druthers, in memo 6 if you look at map on 47, we would say that it was residential to W. Dayton St. He would support more residential, but supports density, but if you draw line at Dayton it still allows Frances St and others to have offices and other and still keep heart of Miffflin residential. He says earlier a lot of people (including students) showed up and testified they wanted to keep it residential. His preference is that it stay residential for the next 10 to 20 years.
QUESTIONS OF STAFF
Mike Rewey asks about State St. height and offset drawings why it didn’t continue to the square, why as high as you can go on the last corner on State St., the 4 and 6 stories.
Bill Fruhling, planning staff, says that reflects the current planning, the 4 story height is in line with the where the view is wider, the pinch point is on those two capitol view blocks.
Rewey says he looked at the one that could be developed to be higher than it is now.
Fruhling says that it would just catch a corner of that block.
Brad Murphy, Planning Director says he knows it is hard to see on this scale map, but . . .
Rewey says he blew it up and it didn’t help him.
Murphy says that the corners of the blocks are set back further than State St.
Rewey asks why that isn’t carried through on the 6 story. He is worried about the view of the capitol from the Overture. He asks if they have the option to restrict it in the future.
Murphy says to some extent, it depends upon what the zoning calls for and the approval process for new contruction, he says right now they are recommending that for building over 20K sq ft they need to approve development as a conditional use with a recommendation from the Urban Design Commission.
Sundquist asks about process, for editorial issues, do we need to bring it up here, on things they are seeing for the first time today.
Murphy says they can handle that final editing later if they are not substantive, they are recommending that the final resolution allow them to do final editing of the plan to make it flow, there will probably be grammatic and typographical errors. They could handle that this way.
Nan Fey, the chair of the Plan Commission, says that langauge is on bottom of page 1 on memo 6, so if it falls within that, you could bring it to staff. If not, we should do it tonight.
Brad Cantrell agrees with the comments about W. Washington. He thinks the Mifflin and Bassett area address parts of that and it is a special area, if staff could pull that sentences and paragraphs out in his view that would be appropriate. It’s a special area. It’s addressed but can be strengthened.
Marsha Rummel apologizes for missing the last meeting, would like an explanation on the additional stories vs bonus stories.
Murphy says the bonus stories have been eliminated and they are just included and will be reviewed in the conditional use process and using some general standards in the memo.
Rummel says that we are doing away with maximum heights if allowing PUDs to challenge heights, maybe others could chime in but what is the balance. When she talks to her constitutents, she says they won’t be happy with too much flexibility, compared to what they had seen in the original draft.
Murphy says there is still a maximum height map that would be included in the zoning code, but the plan commission is also recommending that planned development districts allow flexibility in heights above the code. For local historic districts they also need approval from Landmarks, that was the balancing that went on and the current recommendation. In the additional story areas, they are recommending using a conditional use process to grant the additional stories.
MOTION AND DISCUSSION
Steve King asks if they need to include the language about making a section on W. Washington.
Murphy says they can approve the memo without changes or you can include changes, if you want changes that are additional to the memo then you need to make that motion.
King says he will get the motion on the floor and then they can amend it. He moves approval of the plan with staff recommendation about be it final resolved clause.
Fey asks if he means memorandum 6 and the additional clause. He agrees. She says then they can make amendments. Rewey seconds.
Sundquist says in Mifflin, on the timing, and what happens between when this is adopted and when design guidelines are done, he is looking for advice in how to address that.
Murphy says the plan will be a guide, it can be used in the review of future development projects, as always, when it is a guide and not an ordinance, there are projects that could be proposed in advance of a more detailed plan being prepared and design guidelines. Those projects could be considered and reviewed against whatever standards the project gets reviewed against. The plan would be taken into consideration, the Council and Plan Commission, with a recommendation from Urban Design would consider if all the conditions were met. Its hard to say if it would or would not be approved given you don’t know what the project would be.
Sunquist says that since they are moving to a form based code, and we wouldn’t have the guidelines to work with yet, it would be a one-off deal, it would just be a PUD like now.
Murphy says that they could make it clear that the additional planning or special district be completed prior to consideration of redevelopment projects, they could work to craft that language.
Sundquist says that he was thinking of adding to recommendation 76 that until the plan is created, the land uses will be presumed to be status quo, residential land uses we have today. Would that be ok?
Murphy says you also heard that it was not the speakers intent to . . .
Sundquist says they could still do a PUD. This is the plan, status quo until it happens to make it clear we should do it soon, we won’t let anything happen.
Murphy asks if the intent is to prevent demolitions and redevelopment, status quo to him means it as it is.
Sundquist says status quo of land use.
Murphy says intent is primarily residential but redevelopment projects would still be considered?
Sundquist says it would be like this plan hasn’t happened yet, maybe someone else can come up with a better idea, or maybe he is over thinking it?
Murphy says that they are also working on new zoning districts that would cover this area.
Sundquist says that until we have the form stuff, what we will have is a use based zoning ordinance and map, so transition is sort of a problem.
Murphy is looking to his colleagues for guidance. Fey asks if anyone wants to volunteer.
Michael Weidelich, planning staff, says that with the new zoning map, until there is a new plan and standards, it would be similar to now, R5 or R6. You would still run the risk that someone would come in with something fairly permittable, but it wouldn’t be in the new form, but we weren’t going to open it up to mixed use and higher densities until they have the other plan done.
Sundquist says he thinks that is what he was trying to say.
Murphy says you could handle the zoning piece with the zoning map and if you wanted to include more language here, that would be fine.
Sundquist says there were editorial changes on page 36 where they talk about form based design standards in two places, really it is form based land use standards. Any design is form based. Do they need to discuss that here.
Murphy says it is pretty clear that the zoning for the area will have design standards and uses permitted.
There’s still a half hour left and if I’m going to finish this, you’re getting the short story for the rest.
Ald. Marsha Rummel supports what Sundquist is trying to do. Fey suggests that they make a motion on it. Sundquist says it will work it out and thinks it doesn’t need a motion. Fey suggests they say “as soon as possible”. Rummel wants to see it prioritized in the near term. King seems to be saying it is editorial. Murphy says they will add “as soon as possible”. Fey says “or words to that effect”.
Rummel adds to 73 the stepback language Verveer requested. Fey says it will be language similar to 78. Rummel says that it should also go to Dayton St. They decide that is a second topic. Sundquist says that might be the way to go, but the point of the design process and the discussion should be done then. Cantrell agrees with Sundquist. He says if they did that amendment they would have to change the height map, he thinks 6 stories is appropriate. Amendment fails with only 3 votes.
Rummel says that on page 36, they should address terraces as public spaces, preserve terraces as public amenity and large canopy trees. Amending the memo. It mentions wide terraces and we want to keep them as public amenities. Seconded by Cantrell. It was unanimous consent to add that.
Rummel says on page 10, she wants to say that PUDs are an extremely rare thing. Not seconded at first, need clarification. Andzejewski seconds. Rewey agrees with intent but wants staff to work on it. Rummel says that is ok. Sundquist says he’s not sure how that works, which one is “rare”. He says maybe there is a better way to say it, he missed the discussion about doing PDDs for heights. Cantrell says PDD is a process, it is not by right. Throwing in a clause that it is rare complicates things, PDDs might be a good thing in some cases. He thinks that process vets the projects extremely well. Andzejewski agrees with the spirit of it. Rummel welcomes wordsmithing. Ald. Chris Schmidt is not comfortable, not sure how you do that fairly. He doesn’t know how it would stand up in court if someone was denied because there were too many PDDs before them. We are trying to make them rare by making the zoning districts usable. Rummel is trying to reflect the concern that people in historic districts who says that now heights don’t mean anything and before we needed exception design, but what is the standard, how do we get to this without limiting the number. Fruhling says that staff recommended additional standards to address additional heights when using the PDD standards and that they be developed in the zoning code and the plan commission previously accepted that, but it is in the small print in the first row on the top of page 10, the plan commission already agreed to develop additional standards in the downtown zoning districts and that would be an opportunity to address this at that time. Rummel says she is interested in seeing those standards, Fruhling says that they would too. Rummel wants to go towards green infrastructure and she doesn’t think staff supports that. She lists examples that would have less impact on our envrionment if the building is taller, she looks forward to how they will do that. Rewey asks what if they made a mistake and it should be less, how do they handle that? Murphy says through the standards in the building code, the maximum height is a maximum, not a go to line, they wouldn’t expect every building to be built to the max. Rewey says they could go above or below, yes above with a PDD. Motion fails with 2 votes.
Rummel on page 33 of memo, 3rd paragraph, wants to delete “initiated” in the last sentence. This is about historic districts. They agree to add that to the motion.
Cantrell separates W. Washington as suggested. Take those pieces out of Mifflin and Bassett. Fey asks if there is any objection to adding that before it goes to council. There is none. Rummel asks about the new map on page 37, that is the opposite of the spirit she thought they were coming towards. She thought they were preserving the small scale with terraces and porches and when you totally change it to this, why have 3 district and not just one. This gets at our history and character and grand boulevard. Fey asks if that is an objection. Rummel says they should go with original map, she could say to remove the map. Rummel apologizes for missing many meetings, she says look at the original, the W Washington character is different. Fey says its ok to have it stand on its own, but the question is what map gets included, and that will depend upon what the council decides. Fey suggests that might be a motion to be made to incorporate that.
Rummel makes motion to have staff make a map that reflects the finer grain character of the district, she wants a new map. Fey says that the map needs to reflect what is in the section. Complications with not being able to turn mics off. Staff revise map to go with the new section. Rewey says that is friendly. Murphy asks how it does not reflect the recommendations in the narrative, and what might you like changed to better address the narrative? Smaller building footprints? Retaining existing buildings like recommendation on page 52 of draft plan. Any recommendations you would have for staff would be helpful, he’s not sure what he would do. Weidelich says that narrative says substantial larger buildings are anticipated. Fey says they need to change the narrative. Hamilton-Nesbit makes some editorial comments. Lots of feedback. King says map on 37 reflects what they want, larger buildings and stepped back. We spent a lot of time talking about it and its accurate. Cantrell says that these are concepts, not architectural drawings, he thinks the narrative about engaging street, multiple entrances, porches and balconies and that addresses the visuals from the street. Urban Design also talked about wide terraces and open space that is tree lined and drive ways eliminated. He thinks that addresses this issue. Fey clarifies the amendment that the map reflect the narrative. Motion passes.
Fey summarizes the motion. Sundquist echoes comments about hard work of staff, citizens and committees, thinks they have a really good plan, even tho there are some sections he would like different, but there is one thing that will cause him to vote no on this, the land fill in the lake is a deal killer. Otherwise he could look past compromises that are in there, this is not a practical idea, apart from the sustainability of it. He wishes he could get to yes on this, he’s already suggested an amendment.
Rummel says long 4 years and thanks everyone, comes in fits and starts and sorry she missed some meetings, she has a lot of concerns about certain elements of this. To her the fundamental question is, we started out thinking that we wouldn’t have PUDs, but now we have them and a conditional use process. She wonders what we are creating in our effrots to be sleeker, she has been struggling with Mifflin and W Washington and she said she thought that is what they should preserve and maybe she will fight that at the council. They have to grapple with how they preserve history and grow and we have opportunities to grow, without throwing out everything in the process. She is still struggling. It has been fascinating.
Passes with 2 nos from Rummel and Sundquist.
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