D6 Items of Interest Week of November 13, 2023


Plan Commission agenda Monday includes the Brayton Lot zoning map amendment, a conditional use to allow 112 S Hancock to convert to a five-unit building, a conditional use to allow food cart vending at 1129 E Wilson, and Core Spaces LLC’s proposal for Johnson + Broom proposes to use the downtown bonus stories for affordable housing. Plus the PC will take up several other development proposals and the Comp Plan amendments. The Council is deliberating on the 2024 Capital and Operating budget on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday.

Monday November 13 – Plan Commission - 5:30p PC Agenda 11.13.23

If you are interested in sharing your comments with the Plan Commission, send them to pccomments@cityofmadison.com before 3p on Monday.

6. 79018 131 W Wilson Street (District 4): Consideration of an alteration to an approved conditional use in Urban Mixed-Use (UMX) zoning to approve amended plans for exterior lighting on a 15-story, 263-unit apartment building.

Staff Report ... emphasized the potential precedent-setting nature of this decision, especially for similarly sited areas along Lake Monona and Madison’s Downtown skyline. While there are some instances of architectural lighting in the City and Downtown, this site has an especially prominent location, with long views from Lake Monona and John Nolen Drive due to its location and its height at the Capitol View Height limit.

7. 79962 112 S Hancock Street; First Settlement Historic District (District 6): Consideration of a conditional use in the Downtown Residential 1 (DR1) District for a multi-family dwelling (5-8 units) to allow a three-family dwelling to be converted into a five-unit multi-family dwelling.

Staff Report The applicant is requesting approval of a conditional use to allow an existing three-story three-family dwelling located at 112 S Hancock Street to be converted into a five-unit apartment building. The building was constructed in 1905 according to City records and contains one dwelling unit on each of the three floors. The building was damaged by a fire in July 2022, after which time the property owner decided to pursue conversion into a five-unit building as part of the post-fire restoration work. 

The conversion request will benefit from a recent change to the Zoning Code adopted on August 1, 2023, which standardized the lot width and setback requirements in various residential zoning districts, including DR1. The text amendment reduced the minimum lot width for all residential uses in DR1 to 30 feet, whereas previously, any site with more than three units required 40 feet of width, which the 39.11-foot-wide subject parcel could not meet. 

In addition to requiring a conditional use for the proposed conversion, the subject property is located in the First Settlement [Local] Historic District, which requires that the restoration and conversion work be approved by the Landmarks Commission prior to issuance of permits. The Landmarks Commission conditionally approved a Certificate of Appropriateness on April 3, 2023 (see ID 76796 for more information).

11. 80214 1129-1133 E Wilson Street (District 6): Consideration of a conditional use in the Traditional Employment (TE) District for free-standing vending located within 200 feet from the property line of a lot with a residential use to allow food carts/ trucks in the parking lot of a brewpub.

Staff Report The applicant, representing Working Draft Beer Company, a brewpub, intends to operate food carts or food trucks in two locations in the brewpub’s parking lot adjacent to an existing outdoor patio seven days a week, as early as 11 a.m. on Fridays through Sundays, and as late as 9 p.m. on all days. The existing patio/outdoor eating area currently closes by 9 p.m. There is currently no amplified music on the patio and no change is requested. The food trucks/carts would operate in two locations in the brewpub parking lot, one on each side of the existing outdoor eating area, immediately outside the metal fence that encloses the patio.... [S]taff has received a letter of support from the Marquette Neighborhood Association expressing support for the request. 

12. 80221 2927 E Washington Avenue (District 15): Consideration of a conditional use in the Commercial Corridor-Transitional (CC-T) District for a tasting room.

The applicant, Minoqua Brewing Company, is proposing to establish a tasting room in the building’s roughly 910- square-foot central tenant space. The applicant holds a brewery permit with the state of Wisconsin. While one facility is in Minoqua, Wisconsin, this would be the other tasting room owned and operated by the brewing company to distribute and serve its products. Previous use of the currently vacant tenant space was a tavern (Growlers to Go), which maintained a full bar and seating for approximately 25-30 patrons. Per state law, a tasting room is exempt from municipal licensing requirements.

Note: Items 15-20 are related and will be considered as one public hearing. Following the public hearing, the Plan Commission shall make separate findings and motions on each agenda item. 

These agenda items relate to Core Spaces LLC’s proposal to demolish 13 residential buildings on Gorham/Johnson/Broom; rezone parcels to UMX zoning; amend the downtown height map to allow for additional  bonus stories and provide affordable beds;  apply for conditional use permits for a building greater than 4 stories, greater than 20,000 square feet and greater than 8 dwelling units; approve a new certified survey map for the parcel; and approve a land use restriction to be included in the purchase agreement for land the city would sell to the project in order to allow construction of a new 8-15 story student housing apartment building with approximately 465 units. 

15. 79966 407 and 431 W Gorham Street, 408-430 W Johnson Street, and 304-318 N Broom Street (District 4): Consideration of a demolition permit to demolition of 13 residential buildings for a proposed residential redevelopment. 

16. 80329 SUBSTITUTE: Creating Section 28.022-00646 of the Madison General Ordinances to change the zoning of property located at 405-407 & 311 West Gorham Street, 408-430 West Johnson Street, 304-318 North Broom Street, 4th Alder District, from PD (Planned Development) District, CN (Conservancy) District, and UMX (Urban Mixed-Use) District to UMX (Urban Mixed-Use) District. (District 4) 

17. 80308 Amending map in Section 28.071(2)(a) related to downtown height limits of the Madison General Ordinances to update the Downtown Height Map in the North Broom Street area. (District 4)  

18. 79967 405-407 and 431 W Gorham Street, 408-430 W Johnson Street, and 304-318 N Broom Street (District 4): Consideration of a conditional use in the [Proposed] Urban Mixed-Use (UMX) District for a multi-family dwelling with greater than eight (8) dwelling units; consideration of a conditional use in the UMX District for a new building greater than 20,000 square feet and more than four stories; and consideration of a conditional use in the UMX District for outdoor recreation, all to allow construction of an eight- to fifteen-story apartment building with approximately 465 units. 

Staff Report

19. 79992 Approving a Certified Survey Map of property owned by Core Spaces, LLC located at 405-407 and 431 W Gorham Street, 408-430 W Johnson Street, and 304-318 N Broom Street (District 4). 

20. 80423 Authorizing the inclusion of a Land Use Restriction Agreement as an exhibit to the Purchase and Sale Agreement between Core Spaces, LLC (“Purchaser”) and the City of Madison for the Purchaser’s acquisition of the property located at 405 W. Gorham Street (District 4)

25. 80307 Amending map in Section 28.071(2)(a) related to downtown height limits of the Madison General Ordinances to update the Downtown Height Map in the Brayton Lot area. (District 6)

Staff Report highlight: “On March 7, 2023, the Common Council adopted an amendment to the Zoning Code that added an affordable housing incentive where a project with affordable housing units can exceed the number of stories as long as the project does not exceed the maximum height in feet. ... 

In the case of Block 113, this would likely mean that, due to the Capitol View Preservation Limit, a total of 11 stories could be built on the 10-story portion of the site if it met the affordable housing requirements. A total of 5 stories could likely be built on the 4-story portion. MGO 28.071(2)(a) Proposed Amendment 

On balance, staff believes that the current 10 and 4 story height limits for this block as reflected in the Downtown Plan and on the Downtown Height Map provide sufficient flexibility for a City-initiated development that would incorporate a substantial amount of affordable housing. In making their recommendation/decision, the Plan Commission and ultimately the Common Council should consider this, among other perspectives heard at the public hearings.”

In my November 6 blog, I discussed my goal of maximizing affordability and providing a range of affordable and market rate units. Over 50 people attended the neighborhood meeting last Monday about the proposed zoning map amendment for the Brayton Lot. We heard from proponents and opponents of the height change in a thoughtful and respectful conversation. One of the speakers was Helen Bradbury from Stone House Development. She is an experienced affordable housing developer who confirmed what I stated in my blog that the deepest affordability (30-50% area median income) is built using wood which is typically 4 or 5 stories of stick-built construction over a concrete podium. Last week in my blog, I stated my willingness to consider slightly higher heights on the 4-story portion, but I agree with the conclusions of the staff report and think applying the bonus story incentive would also achieve the goal of maximizing affordability for the 4-story portion.

Note: Item 26 is the ordinance on which the Plan Commission is required to make a recommendation to the Common Council; Item 27 is the resolution that the Plan Commission is required to adopted by Statute. Both have identical attachments.

26. 80281 Adopting an amendment to the City of Madison Comprehensive Plan. 

Staff Report 11.13.23

List of Proposed Revisions to the Comp Plan 10.11.23

27. 80367 Adopting an amendment to the City of Madison Comprehensive Plan.                   


Tuesday November 14 – Common Council – 5:30p CC Agenda 11.14.23

If you are interested in sharing your comments with the Common Council, email them to allalders@cityofmadison.com. Please include your address or district.

2024 Budget Deliberations

The final round of amendments will be before the Council on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. Public testimony will be taken on Tuesday.

CC proposed Capital budget amendments November 14-15, 2023

CC proposed Operating budget amendments November 14-15, 2023

The agenda has links to the mayor’s proposed Executive budgets, agency briefings, public comments, and amendments approved by the Finance Committee over the last two months. 

Several of the major 2024 capital projects include constructing a permanent men’s shelter on Bartillon Dr, design in 2024 and construction scheduled to begin in 2025 for the Reindahl Imagination Center (co-located library and park pavilion), construction of the State St Garage with a new intercity bus terminal, bridge repair on John Nolen Drive, PFAS treatment for Unit Well 15, construction of Metro’s satellite facility on Hanson Rd, planning for North-South Bus Rapid Transit, and $20M for Affordable Housing development projects.

Some of the highlights in the 2024 capital budget for District 6 and surrounding districts: Engineering is planning the reconstruction of E Wilson and E Doty, and Rutledge St. The Stormwater Utility proposes reconstruction of Yahara River shoreline @ Burr Jones Field as part of Stormwater Quality System Improvements. Parks has future projects for James Madison Park (2026-2028), McPike Park (2025 planning for Baldwin triangle improvements and 2028 construction), and causeway improvements for the Lake Monona Waterfront in conjunction with John Nolen reconstruction (2025, 2028).

The operating budget funds salaries/benefits, community agency grants, purchased services and supplies. 

If you have interest in reading a 21 page report on Madison’s budget, check out the Wisconsin Policy Forum 2024 City of Madison Budget Brief. It highlights the factors that contribute to the precarious budget situation we face: loss of federal ARPA funds (American Rescue Plan Act), a 6% wage increase for general employees to keep up with previously approved wage increases for police and fire labor contracts, contributions to Metro, and other sources of revenues (room tax, parking fees) not rebounding yet to 2019 levels.

The report captures the moment we are in: “In our annual brief on the city budget, we find Madison has a vibrant local economy and largely healthy finances, including strong reserves, high service levels, modest liabilities for pension and retiree health care benefits, and a premium bond rating from Moody’s Investors Service.

Yet Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and the city council face challenges for the 2024 budget and even greater ones in future years. The federal pandemic relief funds that have helped sustain city services since 2020 are running out and key revenue streams have yet to recover enough to make up for their looming loss. City receipts from bus fares, parking fees, and even room taxes have yet to return to 2019 levels when accounting for inflation. Madison leaders have worked on spending cuts, but city spending levels per resident remain relatively high compared to other cities and villages in Wisconsin, as tracked by metrics such as the Forum’s Municipal DataTool. 

Other lesser concerns have also arisen, such as a reliance on reserves and an inability to increase staffing levels to match the growth in residents. Also, high rates of inflation and elevated turnover in key agencies like the police department will continue to put pressure on city leaders to raise wages. To cope with these long-term challenges, the city needs new revenues or creative spending cuts. For now, the state is neither providing substantial new aid nor changing restrictions on the city’s taxes or its obligation to bargain with firefighters and police for higher wages. In future years, city officials will need either a breakthrough at the state level or some other new, homegrown approach.”

The report concludes with this: “With only modest assistance from the state budget and Act 12, the city of Madison faces a difficult budget in 2024 and the knowledge that the degree of difficulty is likely to increase in future years. The path ahead is far from clear. 

Some will argue that Madison already benefits enormously from the presence of UW-Madison and the state capitol in the city and that local taxpayers, as opposed to the state, should bear most responsibility for paying to maintain their relatively high current level of services. This is in fact how the city once managed its affairs – before strict property tax levy limits were adopted – and many would argue it is a reasonable approach. There is only one problem: it is becoming more challenging year after year for the city to do so. 

At present, state law prohibits a sales tax in Madison and tightly limits the amount of new property tax revenue that can be directed to the city’s ongoing operations. City leaders could choose to seek authority for a larger property tax increase through a referendum but would need to wait until next year at the earliest to put such a question to voters. This possibility seems increasingly likely for a future city budget.

Municipal referenda have proven more difficult to pass in other communities compared to ballot questions for school funding, and the Madison schools are increasingly eying a funding referendum of their own for 2024. However, the other options for the city – such as steep fee increases, spending cuts, or a heavy reliance on reserves, borrowing, and other short-term maneuvers – would present difficulties of their own.”

No one in City Hall has formally talked about a referendum next year to exceed the state-imposed levy limits until the Wisconsin Policy Forum raised it. In a recent Cap Times article on the 2024 budget, Dave Schmiedicke, the city’s Finance Director, describes the challenges of maintaining service levels in spite of increasing property tax assessments and notes: 

“Referendum is an option under state law and that is being pursued,” Schmiedicke said, but he didn’t have an answer for what is the best solution for Madison. “Almost everything that the city does is controlled by the state, and we have very few options.”

Stay tuned.


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Alder Marsha Rummel

Alder Marsha A. Rummel

District 6
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