Yeah, its been a while. No longer have time for very detailed notes, but time to get back to business now that the summer is over and Rob once again is busy (building tiny houses) on Tuesday nights. Tho, I have to admit, I cheated and watched from the comfort of my home. Feeling snarky, I really shouldn’t blog about these folks, it is just too painful to watch the lack of principles and values and ethics. So, a few comments sprinkled throughout.
ROLL CALL/SUSPENSION OF THE RULES/NICITIES
Chris Schmidt moved suspension of the rules to take items out of order and introduce items not on the agenda.
Oscar Mireles did a really nice recitation of poetry about growing up not knowing spanish and finally learning his native tongue later in life. Can’t blog it and do it justice.
Honoring resolution for Sat Sep 28, national plug in day about electric cars.
Honoring the Rotary Club for 100 years of service.
No early public comment.
4 – 8 are public hearing items.
The following items need a super-majority vote and they will record unanimous consent for those. 22 (annual bond resolution), 39 (parking utility budget item)
The following items have additional recommendations 40 (rerefer to Board of Health, Equal Opportunities Commission and Community Services Committee)
Motions from the floor. Item 53 public sanitary sewer easement is recommended to approve. Item 92 is to follow ALRC recommendations.
Items excluded are items numbers 9, 14, 16, 37, 90 and 91.
That motion passes.
4 – Shamrock Bar and Grill – registration is Will Sandstrum. He is against. Not giving him any press, sorry. Told the story of his dad again. 5 registrations in support. They close the public hearing. Motion is to close the public hearing and move recommendation of the ALRC per the attorney’s recommendation.
5 – 425 W Washington. Lobbyist are registered supporting and available to answer questions. No public. Close the public hearing. They adopt with plan commission conditions, there is a full page of items to read and they don’t read it.
7 – The Capital Budget – there is only one speaker. Gordon Cnare supporting and wishing to speak. He represents the Madison Scouts of the 50s Alumni group. Its the drum and budle corp. He invites them to the 75th anniversary at the Monona Terrace on the 28th. The capital budget is referred back to Board of Estimates and they recess the public hearing.
6 – Longfellow School. There are several registrations. Lobbyist (Meriter), developer (Randy Alexander), lobbyist, architect. They have unanimous approval from several groups but there was an amendment at the Plan Commission that will stop the project. They have an agreement to share the parking with Meriter and if they don’t have that it affects the financing and capital costs. ARchitect thanks neighbors for weighing in, says project got better with input (like most architects and some developers usually end up admitting)
Marsha Rummel asks about how the funding jeopardizes the project. Randy Alexander says it is all about the money and who pays for what and how the lender makes decisions. Chris Schmidt asks some clarifying questions. Alder Sue Ellingson does the developers bidding and makes the motion and removes the offending condition from plan commission.
Schmidt throws a fit
Chris Schmidt gets in a snit about the way the Mayor askign the motion to be properly made, he attempts to get the City Attorney to side with him, the City Attorney says his opinion doesn’t matter, it can be done either way, but the mayor is the chair of the meeting and he’d have to have the body overrule the ruling of the chair.
Mayor says that they should think about the implications of overruling the plan commission because he says that every recommendation that comes from every board and committee is basically meaningless in terms of whether or not you have the discontinuity of requiring a majority vote and then requiring amendments to change it. He says the way the body has always acted it to move the report of the body and then make amendments if there is desired change. The first place you will run into this as a major event is with the budget. Someone could move a substitute budget and ignore the report of the Board of Estimates. This has been going on as long as the history of the body and it would be unprecedented.
Schmidt disagrees and challenges the ruling of the chair, motion is seconded. Schmidt disagrees and says they frequently make changes to the recommendations of the committees and that is their preview as a body, he doesn’t see it as being in opposition to Robert’s Rules.
Roll call: Aye: Phair, Schmidt, Ahrens, Bidar-Sielaff, Clausius, Clear, Ellingson,
No: Resnick, Rummel, Skidmore, Stausser, Subeck, Verveer, Weier, Zellers, Cheeks, Cnare, DeMarb, Palm
I think that group of aye’s could be told by the mayor that the sky is blue and they would disagree just to disagree with the mayor, its getting pretty old. But then again, two of them are rumored to be running for mayor against him in a few years.
Back to business – Longfellow School
Ellingson moves to amend the plan commission report to remove the valet parking be eliminated if Meriter Hospital is sold at any point. She says that this project is important to her district, there is a lot of substandard housing in Greenbush. She is working hard to bring it back, including creating a TIF district for single family housing. She says this is 104 high end dwelling units to the district and provides increment to fund the TIF. She seems really flustered. She says that the Alexander Company has been worked hard to make this work, this is a good project that will make a big difference. Arguing over 30 parking spaces has to revert back to Meriter is inappropriate and trivial. We have a beautiful $10M well managed building vs. zero. A dead school and a vacant lot. She thinks it is really important, hopes they will approve the main motion and amendment.
Mayor Paul Soglin says that the more they discuss it the more they are convinced they should adopt the amendment and remove the condition and you should amend and eliminate all of the parking connected with Meriter, he says he makes that argument for planning and parking reasons. He says if the project is going to fail based on the failure to shuffle cars then residential development in this city is not economically viable and every time you get a plan for a residential development because you will hear that they can’t get the financing unless there is a shared use during the day. Lets go back and get lovey dovey around placemaking and how we love the automobile and how we love our urban neighborhoods and how we want to preserve the residential character. Whether you call this a PUD or not, this is residential. Lets dispense with the quesiton of off-site and shared parking. Lets admit that over the years mistakes have been made in that regard. And that doesn’t mean we have to repeat them. There is a shared commercial usage across the square, the first block of East Mifflin, also in W Main, W Doty area. We even have a hospital here in Madison, St. Mary’s that has offsite parking on a commercial property, but do you want to continue the horrid practice of having commercial parking in a residential area? That is one of the reasons why for many decades downtown Madison did not grow and prosper. If you lived on W Mifflin or the near east side, you often found that the backyard parking, that was all illegal, was occupied by commuters and as long as property owners were able to gathter that income, there was little incentive to further develop the property for its highest and best use, it put the residents at a disadvantage and for those developers that did follow the ordinances, it put them at a competitive disadvantage economically. There is nothing stopping Meriter for doing the valet parking, they don’t have to take it into the residential development, they can drive it in their ramp. If this project is so fragile that it can’t survive wihtout the income from this use, what kind of pressures are we going to be under in terms of furture development in residential neighborhoods. Every developer will be coming to us to market their spaces to some commercial use. And they are going to point to this as the precedent. Valet parking can continue, the site can be developed, the precedent from the neighborhood standpoint, from the environmental standpoint, from a placemaking standpoint, from an economic standpoint is horrid. If this project can work without the income from the spaces, there is something wrong with the project, or something wrong with Madison Wisconsin that this site can’t be devleoped economically for residential. Go ahead and repeal the amendment, but really do it right, and not take a commercial use and move it into a residential site, it is bad public policy.
(WHY I LOVE THIS MAYOR! ^^^^^^ Maybe it was just the memory of backyard parking and all that it brought with it, but I think he’s on to something.)
Questions of Staff
Lauren Cnare has a question for staff. She asks about the perils of this type of shared parking, how is it done elsewhere in the country but in other areas of the city. Tim Parks says that shared parking is generally encouraged under the zoning code, wasn’t discouraged under the old code, but more encouraged in the 2012 code and basically it is viewed as an opportunity to maximize the parking provided. In this case there is a significant capital investment to create the parking. There is probably an under-utilization of the parking during the day, only a portion of the 130 parking spaces, 8 would be loading and unloading and 36 stalls for the new version of existing valet operation. Generally speaking this is two private property owners, there is typically a lease or cross access. He says the zoning code allows off site parking, generally speaking it is required to be within 1/4 mile of the site benefitting from the shared parking. So this can fulfill their parking needs while taking advantage of excess parking of another site. St. Mary’s and Meriter currently use parking near Wingra Creek, one of them in a nonconforming parking lot. He says we have it in the Williamson St. and Atwood corridors. St. Bernards Church has two or more restaurants that use that parking under an arrangement approved by the Plan Commission, Bunky’s is one of those. Typically the zoning code encourages it, in the case of this site we didn’t see any concerns with it in terms of what they reviewed for the plan commission, the final details need to be worked out.
Lisa Subeck asks if they ever forbid – usually we take it up from the other direction – the new development needs new parking – what is our routine for dealing with this, she was surprised it was in our purview. What puts this in our purview. Tim Parks says that he doesn’t think it always comes before them in zoning approvals, sometimes they happen on an ad hoc basis. The ordinances require them to have on record the easements, sometimes they happen after or outside the approval of the project. He says there is no parking requirement Park St. to Blair St. and Lake to Lake for anything and so sometimes it isn’t even required. Obviously there is a market and banks won’t lend if there is no parking on site, or no ability to have parking to have and hold on someone else’s site. You will see projects that have parking and then they find they don’t have the demand, if they know that up front they make that as part of the approval and other times they require it as a correction afterwards. He says if people want to rent a parking stall, he says what we see more frequently is that they find they have excess parking and they are offering it to others.
Subeck asks if there are other examples of commercial/residential mix. Is this unique? Tim Parks says it has been done elsewhere but he can’t think of many examples, he says Monroe St., 2 residential buildings and 2 mixed use buildings and some of the commercial parking is underneath or besides the residential buildings. Subeck asks if we have had any problems with that. Parks can’t think of any.
Rummel asks about that one of the conditions will get them there, what is the on-going jurisdiction of the plan commission. Parks says they want to approve the final details of the shared parking, and once approved and recorded then any changes would be alterations approved by the Dir. of the Department after a recommendation by the alder. He says that there is no zoning text that requires it in the SIP, if approved that would attach jurisdiction unless it was a conditional use. Rummel says to clarify that since it is a SIP so that’s it when the plans are approved. Parks says they would be in an enforcement posture, not a matter before the plan commission.
Ellingson asks the City Attorney if the condition is in the purview of the city. Michael May says that it wasn’t tied to the use but the change in ownership so he had concerns. That is why the info from planning about the SIP is more consistent with what you normally do.
Mark Clear asks if Parks can recall a condition based on ownership not use. Parks says it is usually based on the nature of the proposal.
Larry Palm says there are establishments in the city that we don’t like operating in the city, how did we get them to agree to no longer have that use when they sell the property, how did we get those? Parks hasn’t been around enough to know what Palm is talking about. Palm says that there is a certain establishment in district 15 on E Washington Ave that if the current owner does not own it, it won’t stay in its current use. Parks doesn’t know. He knows it is probably a non-conforming use so if it ceased to be a non-conforming use then the ability to have the non-conforming use would stop, but he doesn’t think it is tied to ownership, but he would need to talk to the zoning staff. He is now remembering another example of a conditional use of a check cashing place on Stoughton Rd that is tied to the ownership. They reorganized the owners in different LLCs and that triggered the condition to come back to the Plan Commission for the same owners to own it under a different LLC.
Schmidt asks the city attorney asks if it pertains to a license instead of zoning, but May isn’t sure.
Shiva Bidar-Sielaff discloses she works at UW Health and is disclosing and not recusing.
Mo Cheeks wants to ask a registrant a question, Schmidt says that they closed the public hearing, Cheeks decides it is not important.
Steve King says he is an appointee from St. Mary’s to the Greenbush Vilas committee he is recusing himself.
Scott Resnick says plan commission is a 4-3 vote and he was the swing. He says the purpose they were trying to get at was two different elements. The plan commission struggled with the courtyard, they felt there was detriment when the entire courtyard is parking, lights shining in would be a major detriment to the overall plan and then encourage referral. The other element was the neighborhood concerns at the first plan commission meeting, not the second, was traffic calming and the congestion of the neighborhood streets, that is how they got to a 4-3 vote, a very close vote. When it comes to parking itself, the plan commission discussed in that that neighborhood the difficulties with commuter parking. Much like the congestion in districts 2, 6, 8, 5, however, in this case, they commissioners applauded the reuse of a 95 year old building and that weighed heavily on the support of passage of this project. If Meriter were no longer part of the situation they might be able to get rid of the shared parking. He says there will always be a type of hospital usage on the site, can’t imagine that changing even if ownership changed. He is in favor of the amendment and is open to questions about how they got there. However, the mayor is making valid concerns about parking in the neighborhood.
Clear says he is struggling about what to say and think. He says its like the left the council and are in bizarro world. This is the strangest discussion he can recall having in 6.5 years starting with the appeal of the ruling and the amendment that has no public purpose, there seems to be some other fight going on under the surface here. He is not sure what it is, not sure if the Mayor is having a fight with somebody, but he doesn’t think they should be part of it and they should remove the strange condition and move on and approve the project and leave the fights to whomever is having them.
(I can understand why Clear doesn’t understand principles or values or sound planning practices, he just wants to do whatever the business community tells him to do. Yuck.)
Schmidt says that the primary concern is that he doesn’t see how it is enforceable, we could put the requirement on there and they could end up selling, keep the valet agreement and then they would have to go to court and he doesn’t know what the remedy would be, its not like they are going to tear down the building.
(No imagination, didn’t know he was a legal scholar.)
The motion passes on a voice vote, seemed to be unanimous. On the main motion there is no discussion. They approve the plan commission recommendation as amended.
Last public hearing item
Item 8 – Assessments for Witacre Road, no registrations, no discussion, motion for approval passes on voice vote.
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