City of Madison Logo
Header: Image

 City of Madison Zoning Code Re-Write Questions & Answers

What Does the Zoning Code Do? 
The Zoning Code is one of the primary tools the City of Madison uses to regulate development.  All existing and new development in the City must be consistent with the code’s requirements.  The code groups the city into different districts (or “zones”), each with their own development requirements. These requirements range from the types of development allowed on a property, to building setbacks from the street and adjacent properties, to the amount of parking required on a site.    The zoning ordinance itself includes two components:  1) The zoning text providing the standards and 2) The zoning map showing where the different standards apply.

Why is the Zoning Ordinance Being Amended?  
With the adoption of the City’s Comprehensive Plan in 2006, the existence of numerous adopted neighborhood and special area plans, and steady growth, the City recognizes the need to update its Zoning Code.  Madison’s last comprehensive rewrite of the zoning code was completed in 1966.  The existing code does not always reflect best zoning and planning practices. The new code is designed not only to better implement the recommendations of Madison’s adopted Comprehensive Plan, neighborhood and special area plans, but also to also be more user-friendly.

How is the New Zoning Code Different from the Old Code?  
There are changes throughout the new code.  For example, several new residential districts have been created, better matching the varied types of neighborhoods that exist and that are planned throughout the City.  The proposed commercial districts are intended to better foster mixed-use development and include new design standards and guidelines to promote attractive commercial development.   Other changes include clearer standards for building design, provisions to promote sustainable development, and a new, more flexible approach to off-street parking standards.

How was the Draft Map Created?  
For each property, there are multiple factors that were considered in proposing new zoning classifications.  These include, but are not limited to, the existing use, existing zoning, lot size, surrounding development pattern, and adopted plan recommendations.  For areas where adopted plans don’t recommend changes, the draft map largely utilizes districts similar to the existing zoning or development pattern.   Input gathered at the public open houses (September – October 2011) will be considered to further refine these maps.

Is the Draft Map Final? 
 No.  This initial map has been prepared for discussion purposes. It is the first of three draft maps being prepared as part of this process.  The feedback provided on this map will be shared with the Zoning Code Re-write Advisory Committee, the Plan Commission, the Common Council, and other bodies reviewing the maps.  

When will the new Zoning Map Take Effect?
The new zoning ordinance and map will take effect after the Common Council approves the map.  While the exact date is not known, staff anticipate this taking place during the first half of 2012.

For More Information: 
Please Contact Rick Roll, Senior Planner and Zoning Code Re-Write Project Manager at 267-8732 or