Continuing on from here, after the first hour and a half of the council meeting. The developer/property owner whining about not having any rights in this city when he is taking up more time in front of the council than anyone else is almost too much to take . . . . and I kinda like Bruce, just not sure when he became the victim here. And, dare I say it, I’m proud of the council members who were thoughtful and stuck with their ideas and plans that are just common sense, instead of pandering to the lobbyists.
LAMP HOUSE, ITEMS 9 and 91
For those who don’t know, there is a Frank Lloyd Wright house in the middle of the block that is on the outter loop, E Mifflin, Butler and E. Washington. Its a gem. And constantly under development pressure for the past 20 years or more. 8 is the appointments, 91 is the formation of a committee to study this block and have a specific area plan for the area.
Rosemary Lee – personally attacks Ledell Zellers, not blogging the comments. She thinks that Zellers should have done something before the development (she has only been an alder for 5 months). Says it is an egregious resolution.
David Waugh speaks in support. Says they frequently update their plans based on development proposals, this is a special block. It was not studied well enough in the downtown plan. He says he is the owner of a new bed and breakfast (Collins House in James Madison Park) and they have had an 85% occupancy rate and many people come to see Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and Tallieson. They also go to see the Lamp House, that block needs some attention, this is a Madison Historical treasure and we cannot afford to screw this up.
Bob Klebba also lives at the bed and breakfast and he is shocked by the two different couples who knew about the Lamp House, one from the UK and the other Pennsylvania. His two concerns with the property, and the reasons he supports the committee is that the Lamp House exists in a neighborhood with a week neighborhood association. He is one block away from the neighborhood and he has been to the meetings and they don’t have the momentum that other neighborhood associations have and he worries that the oversight that the neighborhood steering committee could have had is not sufficient to protect the historic Lamp House. The second issue is that historic districts in downtown area are not being sufficiently recognized with respect to the existing neighborhood plans, with all the changes in the last few years we need to revisit the plans and make changes and this committee is an excellent way to shine light at a higher level on this very important historic resource we have.
Jack Holzier represents the National Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy and the statewide Frank Lloyd Wright Heritage Tourism program which enthusiastically supports the formation of the committee. He also handed a letter to the Mayor that includes support from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He talks about how important the house is and why and how other cities use their Frank Lloyd Wright buildings to help revitalize their cities.
Michael Bridgeman says that it is reasonable to realize that the Downtown Plan and New Zoning ordinance are big documents and it is reasonable to realize that they may not be perfect – it is reasonable to think it is flawed in the looking at this block. Says that preservationists are always accused of being late, and he points out that he appeared in front of the Zoning Code Rewrite Committee and recommended the creation of a local landmark district. He says he was disappointed in not addressing this and we have the opportunity to fix it now. He says context is as important as the house.
Marlilyn Martin or Martini has left.
Bill Gates lives at 125 N Hamilton and has been involved since 2009 regarding the Lamp House, he has gone to neighborhood meetings and has been on the steering committees and has consistently asked for block to block face planning. He wants to know why they can’t look at what could be done. We are always dealing with proposed changes to zoning laws and if the zoning code is so great how come it always has to be changed. Rattles off his qualifications as a professor with many skills. He is a neighbor and is concerned about how this will look.
Downtown Madison Inc lobbyist Susan Schmitz says DMI did not take a position on it, but the understand and appreciate the need for special attention for special places like this, they see the need for attention, but ask that you consider the thoughts about the process. Clarify why the process is necessary for good outcomes. Over the years too much tension between preservationists and developers. They want all stakeholders included. They understand how the ethics code reads on this but thinks that is an unintended consequence. Could there be a business rep that is not located on the block? Don’t we want varied expertise? Where do the final recommendation go and what happens with it.
Ed Kuharski talks about the light and how the tall buildings are impacting projects, he hopes design is the prime value. Read the plan. We need a appropriate amount of development around historic properties and our plans speak against facadism which we just did on State St. and he has a lack of faith in us following our plans.
IRON ALERT: Developers attorney and lobbyist says we should follow city plans . . . usually they make the complete opposite claim and say why their project is so great that they don’t have to follow the neighborhood plan.
Lobbyist Dan O’Callaghan speaking for Rouse development. He says he was engaged in the process the city did on the downtown plan. Its supposed to guide development over 20 years. The plan is only a year old, we should follow it. The owner bought the properties based on the plan. He thought there was consistency and predictability. City has made great strides on the process after careful deliberative effort (i.e. developers are now getting everything they need) and now we are going to frustrate development. The Lamp House was at the forefront of the neighborhood discussions, he participated in those meetings before he has made any applications. After months of meeting, we are prepared to put aside the work of the neighborhood committee but he thinks we should just follow the downtown plan instead of forming an ad hoc committee that seems designed to prevent change from happening.
RISING FROM THE DEAD ALERT! Smart Growth Madison still exists?
Lobbyist Carole Schaefer speaking for Smart Growth Madison and they are opposed. From a policy perspective, they say there was a lot of input into the downtown plan and to say that the block is overlooked is mispeaking because it was talked about quite a bit. This would have been a bonus height area, but after much discussion, that language was removed. That might be an internal staff report because there was good language about protecting the Lamp House that was removed. Other areas were decided to be in need fo special area plans, and this block was not chosen. There are 95 landmarks, will this be a precedent for those other buildings. We already have a landmarks ordinance that protects these buildings. She selectively reads from an article about this being a “hidden gem”, but doesn’t read the rest of it. She says this needs to move forward only if the other projects move forward and are not stopped otherwise it will send a negative message to the development community.
FEAR!! FEAR!!! Let us have what we want!! FEAR!!! FEAR!!!! (Sorry, heard these cries too many times . . . you know the little boy who cried wolf . . . )
Gary Tipler says that there is great opportunity with heritage tourism. He says that he first saw in in the 1970s and has been showing it to people ever since. He talks about the architectural history of the home. Says building needs repair and needs a great deal of investment. Hopes this study will identify incentives to aid in the preservation of the Lamp House.
Marilyn Martin, supports the vision of Madison as a thinking and thriving business friendly city, but also believes that developers and preservationists should work together to preserve our landmarks, encourage tourism and build businesses. We are a city beyond UW and Epic. There are people like her and her husband who chose to retire here and they want young families to have an opportunity to live here and enjoy green space, sunlight and pride in the place they live. She supports the committee, to study the block. People in Madison don’t realize the power of the name of the man and his influence of this man, what this can do for business, to have green apce and benches where people can sit and reflect on the artistry and creativity of this city is significant.
Registrants – supporting Sue Pastor, Matt Kozlowski, Franny Ingelbritson Opposing Lupe Montes, Brian Tidrick, Randy Alexander, Joseph Alexander, Fred Rouse, Randy Bruce.
Bruce Bosben, he is the chairman of Apex Real Estate holdings that owns the Lamp House and all of the buildings on the block except the ones that Rouse owns. None of the property owners on the block were consulted before the committee was planned by Zellers. Wonders how Zoning Code and Downtwon plan are inconsistent, doesn’t think that the committee will resolve that. He says he thinks this is an attempt to reduce the density of the block and thrwart the project. He got a call from the Mayor saying that he thought this would add clarity, while he respects the mayors opinion, he thinks it is unfair to exclude the property owners from the committee. He says the passage is probably a foregone conclusion since it has so many sponsors. How could you decide to support this before hearing the testimony. You decided to do this before we even knew about the idea. snarky, not blogged.
Questions of speakers
Cnare asks Bosben what the big fear is. He says that the start is the downtown plan and ti exists to erode the rights that were given to the property owners on the block. If the committee were genuinely intended to discern what should happen for the good of the city, its a good idea, he thinks the composition of the people on the committee doesn’t show any balance. He says it easy for people to sit around and think about what other peole should do with their property and money. He pays about $2.5M in property taxes a year in town. They spent $7.5M renovating old properties in downtown Madison. He is frustrated that people take pot shots at developers, he is a wannabe developer, he has never built anything, he has made a few proposals that never seem to fly and it just concerns him that after all the production of the downtown plan that it is the next thing on the chopping block. From his education of urban land economics is that the only way for a city to have the revenue for what it needs it to have an urban central district to pay the property taxes to pay for the outlying areas that need the services. The single family house and the typical apartment building don’t break even. The city required more money than they can pay, what makes a city happen is a tall downtown. We have a 14 story limit based on the capital height. If that is the limit let that be the limit, but now we are down to six stories, what happened to the 14 story limit. Now the committee will be tasked with forcing that down further. The city can’t afford to have land this close to the square this valuable forever doomed from redevelopment because the Lamp House is there. If Lamp and Wright were alive they would be amused that the block should be undeveloped because of the house being there. He knows the great nephews of Lamp, and they think it is a riot that this house is being used as a pretext to prevent the block from being developed.
Cnare asks if there is something about the language they could change, and he thinks that they will ask the city attorney about why landowners can’t be members of the committee. Bosben says it was the original composition of the committee with nothing but preservationists and anti-development folks. Obviously you aren’t interested in deciding how much taller you can go, you are interested in how much lower you can go. He has no interest in developing his sites, he isn’t advocating for Rouse’s project, he is advocating for the ideology. If the committee can’t involve the property owners than find another mechanism to involve them. If they can’t be involved it is like they want us to pay the taxes, shut up and blend in and he doesn’t think that is a reasonable request. If you want to offer to buy the buildings so he will go away, lets talk. How would you feel if you owned property and weren’t allowed to say what would happen. He says Clear said that we wouldn’t have a neighborhood plan with no neighbors, but that is what we are doing to him.
Rummel says after listening to his litany of woe, what is his vision for the house, you own the under-appreciated treasure. Do you have ideas that you care to share. He says that in both the proposals he put forward in 2005 and 2009 what he was interested in doing was building along Mifflin St. a large residential building, and both versions contemplated having the Lamp House as an open museum. His wife and children have toured about 150 house museums in 36 states and he enjoys that, his kids don’t, but he thinks that it is amazing that we go to all these little homes and go through great historic houses, but the City of Madison only has one, there should be one in Madison, and it would be a good candidate. Whether owned by hi or an association of people living there or donate it, that is also a possibility, but he bought the house with the idea first of rescuing it. He says that the people who lived there for 26 – 27 years were nto bad, but they basically used it for storage and lived on the third floor. The roof leaked, the windows were broken the floors were not refinished. The plaster was in need of repair, needs tuckpointing. He says the house is stable now, not structurally impaired, they are renting it and occasionally there are issues. The big pile of junk is not on his property, but on Rouse’s property. He whines about being blamed for the garbage and then admits he forgot the question. He says he thinks his comments have been brief.
Steve King says this is rhetorical, and directed at everyone in the room, but you do understand that we are authorizing a committee to produce a plan, not automatically accepting a plan, right? Bosben says that he understands that. King says that you know 18 of us are co-sponsors since Clear took his name off and that many of the cosponsors regularly support development projects across the city right? Bosben is not aware of the inclinations. King says there are 19 of us, there is development going on in the city of Madison so somehow that happens, so we are not all blockers, we are not all against you or into your pile of garbage. Bosben says he is delighted to hear that. King says that was his question. Bosben asks if he can respond. Schmidt allows it. Bosben says that the concern with the 19 co-sponsors is that it seems like under the process, other than the renegade move that Mark Clear has made to cut lose form the cadre he feels like it feels like they all made up their minds before anyone even talked, he is just swimming up stream, why is here. He knows he has no power or authority and it seems like I should deputize you to think on my behalf and I should trust you because some of you are pro-development.
King says that 19 of them, except the renegade are on this to produce a plan, but that does not indicate that 19 of us are going to accept the plan. Some of us that actually like development are not going to vote for a plan to stifle you in. The plan and the committee are separate. Bosben says that in his mind you already have a plan, you already voted on it, you already passed it and obviously you can change your plans and if you ant to figure out what to do to replace your plan it is reasoonable for him to ask that you consult with me. The idea that 19 of you decided doesn’t seem like this is how the system should work.
Questions of staff
Clear asks Kathryn Cornwell, the Planning Director about the process you envision to do this work. She says that they see this as an opportunity to unite the development and preservationist community through the Lamp House which is a Frank Lloyd WRight asset for all of Madison and they want to get input from FLW experts. We think that can happen in a timely fair and predictable manner. They can do design charettes to have the property owners involved to get to an answer quickly.
Clear asks what happens if a development proposal comes in while the committee is doing the work, it would have to be reviewed under the existing plan, right? Cornwell says yes, that is why we want a timely process, we are expecting two proposals in the near future and we have to review them and it would be in our interest to have guidance in that process.
Resnick asks if a project comes in this December we would focus on the current plans and what if the study gets complete, what is the gray area if someone submits tomorrow? Cornwell says that the review is about 60 days and that is a very aggressive timeline for review compared to other cities. If we get a proposal in December we review it with everything tat we have today, if we get it tomorrow the same thing. The March deadline on the process gives her concern and she would like to see a faster timeline.
Resnick asks what timeline she would suggest that would be realistic. She says it is speculation, this is a community with a very deliberative process, many good things have dome from that, that is a question answered by people sitting at a table, it should be decided by a larger group of people than herself.
Clear says that he has significant concerns. The first concern is timing, the most important one is that the ad hoc committee will take a lot of time. He appreciates trying to get it done in six months but we all know that those timelines are made to be blown through. If it were to meet the deadline it would be the first one ever. Just ask me about the TIF committee and the February deadline. What she is saying is that if a proposal comes in they can’t consider the committees work and as Alder King was trying to get at with Mr. Bosben we don’t want to create a foregone conclusion before the council gets a chance to review it. He thinks it would be better to have a staff process like we had for the downtown plan, it didn’t have a steering committee, we have the plan commission and we don’t want to cede that authority to another group. We can have a better and faster process where everyone can be a full participant, we can have property owners, staff and neighbors and experts. That is a better way to do it. He is also concerned about the perspective committee members tonight that were telegraphing the outcome. Also, we are creating a high stakes situation that is pitting the preservationists against developers and the development committee will be able to simply give it no credibility because they were not involved. As you know the development community tends to criticize us and lets not give them the ammunition to do that. He hopes others will reconsider their sponsorship of this, he was given the impression that property owners and neighbors were all supportive of this idea and that is not at all the case.
(^^^^^^^ Two things, first of all, why did he speak first, normally the person who is proposing something speaks first. Zellers should have been called on first – Chris Schmidt is in the chair, not the mayor.
Second, notice how the development community, through its spokesperson Mark Clear, prefers the “staff driven” process that allows them and their lobbyists to schmooze behind the scenes all day long, instead of a community driven, open and transparent process with open meetings and minutes, etc. They would much prefer to do this behind the scenes with staff.)
Ledell Zellers says that developers and spokespersons for developers are saying that having this block have a plan is a precedent an she would say that if there is any other building designed and the construction overseen by Frank Lloyd Wright then yes, she would say this would be a precedent, but the fact is, there is no such other building downtown. If anything would be a precendent, it would be the rezoning necessary for the proposed apartments and the concept that has been shared, there would be little justification for not carrying the rezoning to Mifflin St. and that would pretty much enshroud the Frank Lloyd Wright House and while that was put in the middle of the block so it wasn’t prominent, it does have distinctive view into Mifflin St. If we want to do that, we should make a conscious decision that this is what we want to do, she is asking the committee to make those recommendations, we are proud of Monona Terrace and we should be careful what we do on this downtown block which is just a short distance from Monona Terrace. She says having a block plan for this important Heritage block would allow for a thoughtful approach and a community vision. Having a committee like this we hear from a range of stakeholders and we hear from all of the stake holders at publicly noticed meetings. It would be important to hear from them. One of the things Mr. Bosben said about focusing our development on the isthmus, in Freiburg they protect the scale of their downtown and she asked what about density, they say that it happens outside the central city. As we develop density, we need to be careful about how we develop on this very special, very unique block. That is really the point of having the committee. As Brad Cantrell on the Plan Commission acknowledged, he thought it was an oversight and that we did not attend to this block with a specific plan, he is not someone who is out to block development and he took some responsibility for this. She says the concepts that came forward require a rezoning and that would be a precedent for the block and she wants a thoughtful discussion with community input that goes to the Plan Commission.
Matt Phair says he is going to go with his gut and pull his sponsorship, he apologizes to Alder Zellers cuz he usually likes to talk to the alder first before he does it. He says that as he listened to people he feels like he has to go with his gut, this has been studied in the downtwon plan and there were good arguments made and he won’t support it.
Lauren Cnare she id going to speak from a practical point of view and says that for those that sat through Edgewater and Iota Court you know we will have this Special Area Plan discussion anyways and it will likely be the same people who are participating on the development side and the preservationist side and we can have the discussion through the committee with the plan division asssisance, with input from people in the area, we can cut to the chase to have the committee now, if we want to work on the mission or add a seat, that might be a way to build the committee up and make it feel balanced, we will have the same discussions and arguments and we can do it in an organized fashion. She understands that the neighbors cannot participate because they have a financial interest but many of the committees work in an informal process and people sit at the table whether named members or not. So we are not closing anyone out of the discussion you just don’t have a name plate. She thinks special area plan is good because it is a special area. The downtown plan is violated or not being stuck to all the time, this is precedent setting, not voiding the rules at the last minute, we do it all the time. This is a unique situation and this is a good way to resolve it.
John Stausser says after speaking with Ledell earlier he was on board, now he on the fence, he would like to remove his name from sponsorhip, but he hasn’t made up his mind yet.
Joe Clausius says that he shares Ald Clear about the bias of the ad hoc committee, he heard them speak too and he can sense what their outcome will be, the ad hoc committee is asking them to do over the downtown plan. Are we talking about restoring the Lamp House or developing the surrounding block and how it became about the Lamp House is mind boggling. He is from the same hometown as Mr. Wright and he is a fan and he visited falling water last year. He wants his homes preserved. The Lamp House isn’t Falling Water, it is run down, it isn’t owner occupied, its a rental unit and it certainly isn’t very visible right now. I guess the thought is that they will open the block for more viewsheds, I can’t see that because you would have to tell everyone that they can’t build more than what is there now. As far as the work the committee does, 6 months is too long, common sense tells you a developer is going to come in with the proposal long before that and do we wait for the committee or review the project. He wants to see the staff to the work, a mini-downtown plan on the pros and cons of redeveloping the block, considering the Lamp House, he apologizes to Alder Zellers too, he removes his sponsorship.
(^^^^^^^ So if property isn’t owner occupied, its just garbage?)
Larry Palm notes the bodies ability to take new information and new view points whether or not I agree, to the point that how can you sign on without knowing, we do this all the time, we talk to each other about proposals and things morph and change. The composition of the proposed body has changed, there are things that allow us as alders to reflect new information. While he disagrees with the alders who removed their names, it shows our ability to adjust. He had a special area plan, and while the property was different, the fundamentals were the same. A property owner that didn’t like it, but it was through the discussions that really was a document that moved everyone forward, not just specific people or properties, it moved the city, the neighbors and parcel forward and gave greater unity and understanding for everyone. The notion that a committee has predisposed ideas is crazy, because as we have demonstrated opinions change based on information, the view points change and through collective knowledge and understanding you see something might not be that important and not you have a supporter for a shared vision and they become not an objector, but a champion. We should be bringing people together to talk and engage in thoughtful discussion and shared understanding and have a shared vision that allows us all to build and preserve with equal understanding.
(^^^ Nice speech, but funny people change their minds when the lobbyists speak, but not when community and neighbors come forward – a lobbyist or two swings the council around, 20 neighbors are just NIMBY, and activists are just annoying.)
Anita Weier is also concerned about the process and the timeframe, however this “anti-development” council has been approving almost every development that comes along, including 100s of apartments that might ultimately stand empty. We blighthly approe TIF districts, perhaps it is time we slow down and look at what we are doing.
(^^^^^^ JFC, 2% vacancy rate, don’t they get the concept. Helath is 5%, National Average is 8.6%. Apartments that stand empty, ha!)
David Ahrens says that he is maintaining sponsorship and has become more convinced and what shifted him from luke warm to strong support is the notion that we have the opportunity here to take a second look, this is an important property and national institution and a key part of our downtown. Even though we developed a thoughtful plan, it is reasonable and even a necessity to step back and take a second look. What is really compelled him to this positions is the 12 story building at State and Francis and he asked about why the plan commission voted that way and they said it is in the zoning plan. He thinks it is important to step back and take a second look, and we don’t need to be shy or embarrassed about that as regulators of the public body and city, it is necessary for us to do.
Resnick also staying a sponsor, he says what alder Zellers has pointed out, she is forecasting an issue and if you don’t think that Plan Commission, UDC and Landmarks won’t struggle with the same testimony repeated at each committee and at times to move forward it will require us to step back and talk about it. My position staying on as a sponsor, but the opposite of Weier, he doesn’t want to stall development, he thinks there is development that can occur, but it requires conversation. He has ideas about composition. He says that with the Downtown Plan you could read any passage that any project would fit in it perfectly or go in the face of the plan, we have a list of those conflicts and he would like to have staff start to look at how to close the gaps in the plan. Unless we do that the developers won’t have that guidance and he doesn’t want people to feel like their time spent on the plan is wasted. Hope the work is done timely and that they can move on to the other half of the discussion.
Rummel supports, she says no surprise since she is on the Landmarks Commission. What struck her when she took the tour of the block, it it the historic context, it is part of the whole. No one is predicting any outcomes here, you know life unfolds, keep an open mind. She says that she had a project on 800 Willy St. and they probably could have gotten through zoning, so we initiated a BUILD process, looked at 4 blocks and you will hear soon about new plans and that is just to show that you don’t know what will happen until something is before you. We should stop this preemptive planning, it seems like we approve any zoning that is in a plan, I hope we think about it. What is the headline tomorrow, the council won’t study the best practices for one of our most famous architects block that is so uniqyue. Lets just do it and get it done.
Clear says that he supports planning for the block, for all the reasons people articulate, he agrees with Ahrens, what he has concerns about is the methodology that creates a committee and it is much more formal, much more restrictive, it can be stifling, instead of getting people together for a conversation. There didn’t need to be a committee for the downtown plan, it would be much better having an inclusive process rather than creating a committee and the difficulties and animosities that will come out of it.
(^^^^^ That’s just gross, he just admitted that he would prefer backroom deals and lobbying to transparency and open processes.)
Resnick realizes he has to add a committee member now, he adds another committee member to the group that has knowledge of business interests downtown as an amendment. It’s seconded. Resnick says they have seen there is desire to bring someone into the conversation that has knowledge of development downtown, he would feel more comfortable with that, the name will have to come later and they can get started.
Chris Schmidt says that the motion is “development downtown” expertise for the committee member.
Palm asks if this means that the committee will now be an even number. He also suggests it say downtown developer.
Resnick says that there has already been attempts to find someone so they were trying to make it more ambiguous.
Schmidt asks him to restate the motion.
Resnick says they are looking for someone “with downtown development knowledge”
Rummel says that you won’t find someone, they looked and they couldn’t find anyone, they kind of keep each other covered and that’s fine but I would urge us to get some downtown business person that will do what you want it to do.
Schmidt says the motion is “to add another committee member with downtown development knowledge” if you wish to amend it, make a motion.
Clear says the wording of the amendment, and he feels that he has found someone who has agreed and he forwarded it to the Mayor, Resnick and Zellers, he thinks that person does exist.
Motion to add a person passes.
The main motion carries . . . the committee is created. Voice vote.
The appointments will have to wait til tomorrow.
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