Urban Design Approvals

The City of Madison is a community of unique natural and architectural beauty. To ensure that buildings and landscaping enhance this beauty, the City creates special districts in which it can guide the design and appearance of the structures and land (City Ordinance Sec. 33.24).

To determine if your property is in an Urban Design District or to find out your property’s zoning designation, please call the Zoning staff at (608) 266-4551. If you want to develop property within an Urban Design District, call Kevin Firchow, Principal Planner, at (608) 267-1150 to discuss your development proposal and have a Project Manager assigned.

Process Overview

  1. Meet with Urban Design Commission staff

    Early in the planning of your project you must meet with the UDC staff to discuss the project and establish a timetable for the approval process. You will also want to contact the district alderperson to discuss your proposal and learn of any neighborhood concerns. Projects involving minor alterations may qualify to be administratively approved. Otherwise, prepare your plans and follow the steps to obtain your building permit.

    Where to go:

    Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday
    126 S. Hamilton St.
    Madison, WI 53703

  2. Submit Building Application

  3. Notices and Public Hearing

    After you submit your application for a project in an Urban Design District, the Urban Design Commission schedules a public hearing. This hearing is held within thirty (30) days of the date you file your application. City staff sends a notice of the hearing to you, the alderperson and owners of properties within one hundred (100) feet of the boundaries of the proposed project. The notice is sent at least seven (7) days before the date of the public hearing.

  4. Urban Design Commission Initial and Final Approval

    The UDC process includes initial and final approval phases. The initial approval phase considers general building and site design aspects. Final approval considers the details of the project such as building materials, colors and landscape plans. An informational presentation is an option the applicant may request as a way of receiving informal feedback from the UDC. At the UDC meeting you present your plans and answer any questions they may have.

    You or the alderperson for the district may appeal an Urban Design Commission decision to the Plan Commission. Permits are not issued until the Plan Commission acts on their appeal.

    If your plan is approved you may proceed with applying for any other permits you need to complete your project.


Related Forms & Handouts