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Alder Lauren Cnare

Alder Lauren Cnare

Home Address:
5218 Kevins Way
Madison , WI 53714

Phone: 608-235-9179
Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Common Council Meeting 3-20-12 Current Information

March 16, 2012 5:17 PM

Dear Residents:

Tuesday is the final meeting for a decision on the Grandview Commons Town Center general development plan and neighborhood plan changes. (It is not THE end, in that buildings will come back for the public review process before they are built.) Once again, please come to share your opinion with the members of the Common Council.

BUT: There's a wrinkle . . .

Some nearby residents have filed two zoning request petitions that will require 15 votes to approve the zoning change request, instead of the usual 11. A petition such as this sets a higher bar for decision-making, a strong request for the full attention and assent of the Council. We will be missing one member on Tuesday. In order to meet the demand for the full Council to hear and decide this important matter, it may make sense to refer the decision to another scheduled meeting. And, since there are new ideas coming to the development team still, a delay would allow proper review and potential incorporation to occur. No promises, no drastic changes that I have heard of, but these two points may offer benefit to everyone with a little longer incubation.

I also understand the inconvenience of not knowing what you will be doing Tuesday night (or even Wednesday in the wee hours) so I will work over the weekend with all involved in a decision to refer to let you know by Monday morning what will be requested. Look for an e-mail.


Here's how the Council will make its decision. First, it will require 15 votes of the 20 members for the zoning change to occur due to the filing of the zoning protest petitions. The changes to the Comprehensive and Neighborhood Plans, while quite related, need 11 votes to pass. The zoning and the plan amendments are separate in fact, but they support each other are on the table as a functional package.

Alders will review the commission recommendations, which include Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motor Vehicle, Long Range Transportation, Urban Design and Plan Commission. The proposal has gained approval at three of the four. While these bodies have more prescribed tenets upon which to make a decision, the Common Council has greater latitude and therefore considers many other factors. That makes your input very important because you may have points to share that didn't resonate with the other bodies, but will be important to alders.

As has been the path over the last two years, it will be a difficult decision for alders and many have already spent significant time exploring and understanding the proposal and issues. Many have traveled to the site. They have all been very attentive and engaged – offer them a "thanks for listening" – no matter how they vote.

Council starts at 6:30 in Room 201 of the City County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Blvd. (Same building and room as where Plan Commission meets.) Street parking is free after 6 pm and the Government East Ramp is close.

Public Hearings cannot begin before 6:45 pm, but things move pretty quickly once we start. We work with a consent agenda where items that have no speakers registered and are not removed from the agenda by alders are passed in a big group motion. That saves time!

Then, we move on to public hearing items, which are moved, discussed and approved one at a time. This is the section where we will be heard. We are Numbers 4 and 5, and 72 and 73. The items related to this proposal will be moved in two groups – (the plan amendments and then the zoning) – but the discussion will all be in one group. It would be silly to have speakers register twice to speak on the plan amendments and the zoning, so you may register on all the items and address whatever is important to you.

Please be seated in the (okay, old and crummy) seats in the two seating areas. Other seats at the desks will be filled by staff or reporters and we're pretty formal so if you sit at a desk, you will be asked to move to the other seats. Again, we will probably be down to one microphone, which is on the left side of the room as you walk in, so if you have mobility issues or need extra time to get to the microphone, you might want to sit on that side of the room. Like at Plan Commission, speakers will register before the meeting and will be heard alternating support and oppose.

Given the interest and complex nature of this topic, Planning Division Staff will present an overview of the items and what the decisions mean. Alders may ask questions at this time, or we may wait until later in the meeting. We don't often do this, so you may see some "discussion" about process. I think this overview from staff will be helpful for everyone – good background for those new to the complexity of the actions and a refresher for those long engaged.

Then, citizens will speak. Speaking rules for public hearing items at Common Council are 5 minutes per speaker; 3 minutes on other items. Given this difference between some items on the Public Hearing agenda and others on the "regular" agenda, I suggest you register to speak on ALL 4 ITEMS thus preserving your opportunity to use 5 minutes. (You may speak less.) We will determine some mechanism to ask questions – perhaps after every 5 speakers or some easy way to allow you to answer questions without waiting hours. It will improve the process if speakers follow the same tips as recommended for the Plan Commission, including not repeating points made by previous speakers, and taking only as much time as needed to make the point. If you have something to handout, like a picture or map or other document, you may have it passed around to alders to share or make 20 copies. It helps us to be able to see or read things and we will give them back, if you request so.

This will be a meeting with pretty high tension and emotion. Please don't clap or groan at the other speakers. If you want to discuss something with others, please leave your seat and discuss in the hall so the meeting can continue uninterrupted. Then, the public hearing will close and alders will ask questions of staff. Then, it's off to debate amongst ourselves, leading to a vote at . . . anyone want to wager on the time? It could be very late, and you are welcome to stay or head home and watch on City Channel on your computer ( live) or TV Charter Cable 98 or 994, AT&T U-verse 99 or learn the results in the morning with your paper, website or radio.

It will be a great debate with everyone sharing his or her concerns, hopes and analysis that have been well informed by your participation. Thank you for all your efforts, especially those who have stuck with the proposal over the last two years, and those who have offered ideas for improvement and identified issues to be addressed in this very early "general development" stage. For those who worry about Madison's s-l-o-w development process, they are right – it can be slow, but I think the input we get along the way truly makes for a better result.

Stay tuned for a confirmatory e-mail Monday letting you know if a referral will be requested. Or, send me an e-mail if you want individual confirmation.

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