Alder Tag Evers
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210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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District 13 Development
DEVELOPMENT APPROVAL PROCESS
The City Process
"Due diligence" Inquiries
Frequently developers contact city planning staff with inquiries about properties across the city. These informal inquiries typically involve requests for information about city plans and regulations that would influence what may be allowed on potential development opportunity sites. These inquiries do not always materialize as actual projects. When a project does materialize as an intent to file a formal land use application, the following procedures for notice, preapplication review, and formal land use application review apply.
Procedures for a variety of land use approvals are outlined in MGO 28.181 - Madison Zoning Code. These procedures describe the formal notice requirements (in Table 28L-2. Notice Requirements). Applicants must notify the registered neighborhood association(s) in the area where the property is located, any business association(s), DPCED staff, and the Alder of the district within which the property is located. Failure to provide the 30-day preapplication notice does not invalidate any action taken on the application by the Plan Commission or the Common Council. The neighborhood notice may be waived, if approved by the Alderperson, and Director of Planning, Community and Economic Development.
Notice for public hearings required for map amendments (rezonings), conditional use applications, and demolitions require class 2 notification in the official city paper. Additionally, the Planning Division sends notices by first class mail at least 10 days prior to a public hearing to:
- the alderperson of the district in which the affected property is located
- property owners and occupants of multi-tenant buildings within two-hundred (200) feet of the boundaries of the properties affected
- the owners of adjoining property
Signs are also placed on the property that is the subject of the application at least 21 days prior to the public hearing. The signs must be placed facing each public right of way that abuts the property, and the sign must be visible from the sidewalk or other public right of way. The signs provide information about the times and locations of public hearings. Application contents and information received from the public are included in an electronic file associated with project on the City's legislative information system, Legistar, and available from Planning staff on request.
While the preapplication process is optional, development teams almost always adhere to some level of preapplication review with Alders, neighborhood associations, and city staff. Typically, a development proposal will be reviewed at one or more neighborhood meetings hosted by the Alder, and we strongly encourage some review by Planning staff to ID any glaring inconsistencies with adopted plans and zoning.
Urban Design Commission preapplication phase
It is a the standing policy of the Urban Design Commission that any project where Urban Design Commission review is requested or required, the applicant must have a preapplication meeting with the Secretary of the UDC. During this preapplication meeting the UDC Secretary helps project teams bring their proposals into compliance with the adopted Urban Design District standards, as well as with other urban design standards that may be embedded in the relevant zoning regulations.
Formal Land Use Application review
After the 30-day notice period applicants may proceed to review by relevant bodies which may include Urban Design Commission, Plan Commission and Common Council. Typically these reviews include an informational presentation at UDC (which includes an opportunity for public comment), a meeting to secure initial approval by UDC (which includes a noticed public hearing), and a meeting to secure final approval by UDC (which also includes a noticed public hearing). Projects are not always approved at the first meetings and some are referred for multiple reviews with additional opportunity for public comment. After initial approval by UDC (if their review is requested or required), an application proceeds to Plan Commission for a public hearing. Some decisions end with the Plan Commission or Urban Design Commission, while others are decided by Common Council (an overview of Commission and Council involvement in development decisions may be found here:http://www.cityofmadison.com/dpced/planning/documents/Development_Review_Summary.pdf). The formal land use review process typically takes 60-90 days, though this timeframe may vary due to any number of extenuating circumstances over which the Planning Division has limited control.
Oftentimes meetings with neighborhood groups, Alders, and staff continue outside of the required informational meetings and public hearings. These meetings typically result in changes to development proposals to bring them into closer alignment with the spirit and intent of plan policies, and into compliance with the zoning standards. In the case of the 820 S. Park St. proposal, for example, meetings between the development team, staff, the Alder and the neighborhood association led to seven revisions to the proposed project.
Shortcomings of our Process
As we review our system for improvements, we recognize that better coordination between developer, staff, Alder and neighbors during the preapplication phase is needed. The need for an improved process was also identified by the Development Process Improvement Initiative report that Common Council adopted in 2011. This report called for the Planning Division to establish a "predictable, consistent process and expectations for staff review of development proposals during the Pre-Application Phase of projects."
The development of a formal process will make it distinct from the day-to-day calls and meetings that planners, administrative leaders, neighborhood groups, and elected officials may have with potential developers as part of their due diligence. Due diligence is an informal and discretionary process; it is not controlled by the Planning Division, though Planning staff may avail themselves to inquiries from project teams, neighborhood residents, and elected officials.
By contrast a formal pre-application process could draw a distinction between developer due diligence and a real proposal. The Development Process Improvement Initiative acknowledged the need to standardize this process in order to improve communication and coordination of various stakeholders. The purpose of establishing a formal preapplication process would assist with neighborhood coordination in the following ways:
- Predictable process. It will establish a set of prescribed steps that all projects must follow. This action will ensure a consistent threshold of review and public engagement for every proposal.
- Enhanced communication. It will establish clear expectations for the conveyance of information to applicants, administration and elected officials, the community, and partner agencies involved in the review process. This action will ensure that all stakeholders are uniformly informed about applicable plan policy guidance, regulations, and the standards for review.
- Project readiness. It will allow the Planning Division to gather necessary information to advise potential project developers about a proposal's consistency with plans and regulations and to conduct informed meetings with neighborhood residents who may be affected by a proposal. This action will ensure a standard of proposal readiness for formal review by our Commissions and/or Common Council.
The Planning Division is working a Pre-application Process which will be reviewed by stakeholders during the first part of 2016.
Development is driven by private investment. The City has a lot of "no" power but very limited power to force action. We'd say "no" if a foundry asked to build on Park St. but the City cannot tell a developer, "You must build...an apartment building" (or anything for that matter). The City's updated Standards for Review can be found here.
- Tell me and your neighborhood association your opinions.
- Email your opinion to review commissions below.
- Speak at public hearings of those bodies. Ask your neighbors to do the same.
- Urban Design Commission for design. Send comments to email@example.com.
- Plan Commission for land use. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Common Council if final approval is required. Email email@example.com