Each of parcel of land in the City of Madison is zoned under the provisions of the Zoning Code. Each zoning district stipulates the regulations for the use of land and buildings and their spatial relationships (including building height, setbacks and open space) within that district. These zoning regulations exist to preserve the basic health, safety and welfare of the general public and to encourage the existence of complementary uses throughout the City. For more information, please see MGO Sec. 28.184.

If a property owner proposes to use his/ her property in a way that is not permitted by their current zoning, they may request that the zoning of their property be changed to a different zoning district that would permit their proposed use. This process is referred to as a zoning map amendment, or more commonly, a rezoning. In order to rezone property, the Common Council must adopt an ordinance following a recommendation by the City’s Plan Commission. In general, the requested rezoning must be found to be in conformance with adopted City plans.

In special cases, unique developments are proposed that do not fit into the conventional (residential, commercial, manufacturing, etc.) zoning districts. For these projects, it may be appropriate to consider that the property be rezoned to a Planned Development (PD) district. PDs are site-specific zoning solutions that typically have no predetermined requirements for land use, lot area lot width, building height, floor area ratio, useable open space, or off-street parking. All of these items are instead included in an approved and recorded development plan as agreed upon by the owner and the City. For more information on PDs, please see MGO Sec. 28.091.

Process Overview

  1. Discuss with City Zoning & Planning

    Applicants wishing to rezone their property must first meet with Zoning and Planning staff before submitting their application. Please call Planning at (608) 266-4635 and Zoning (608) 266-4551 to schedule an appointment to discuss your project.

    Find out the zoning for your property.

    Where to Go

    Department of Planning & Community & Economic Development
    126 S. Hamilton St.
    Madison, WI 53703

    Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:30 am – 4:30 pm

  2. Notify Alder and Neighborhood Association

    The applicant is strongly encouraged to discuss his/her proposal with the district alder and neighborhood association and nearby property owners prior to submitting their application.

    Also, the applicant or his/her agent is required to notify the alderperson for the district and neighborhood association(s) in which the property is located of their intent to file a rezoning request in writing 30 days prior to filing their application. The written notification may be sent by US Mail or e-mail.

  3. Submit Application

    Rezoning application materials are submitted to the Zoning Counter. Any person, firm, or corporation with a freehold interest in the property may submit a rezoning application.

    What to Include
    • A completed Land Use Application form [check the applicable “Rezoning” box(es)]. Directions
    • A legal description of the property prepared by a licensed surveyor, engineer or title company. The description shall also be submitted in MS Word format on a CD-ROM or as an attachment to the e-mail address located on the last page of the application form.
    • A letter of intent that outlines the nature of the requested zoning map amendment and provides details about the project requiring the rezoning.
    • The review fee (make check payable to City of Madison Treasurer.)
    • Any other specific information describing the impact of the project.
    • Specific site plans as required by staff.

    Zoning staff will review the application at time of submittal for completeness. If complete, the application will be forwarded on.

  4. Notices and Public Hearings

    Public hearings before the Plan Commission and Common Council will be scheduled once the application has been accepted for review. Property owners and occupants within 200 feet of the boundaries of the property will be notified of the application and the hearing dates. The request is also advertised in the City's official newspaper and a sign is provided for the applicant to post on the property. The applicant will be informed of the time and place of the public hearing in a letter sent by the Zoning Administrator following submittal of the application.

    The review process for zoning map amendments is approximately 10 to 12 weeks from the date the application is received to the scheduled action by the Common Council.

    In the case of rezonings involving Planned Unit Developments, the applicant is required to receive a recommendation on the design of the project from the Urban Design Commission prior to the Plan Commission and Common Council reviews.

  5. Rezoning Approval

    If the application to rezone the subject property is approved, the Planning Division will send the applicant or his/her agent a letter outlining the conditions of approval. In most cases, the conditions in the letter will have to be met as verified by City staff prior to permits being issued for the project.

Related Forms & Handouts