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Participation Plan

The process of rewriting the City’s zoning code will be of great interest to City residents, businesses, neighborhood organizations, the development community, and a wide range of other groups and individuals who use or are affected by the City’s development regulations. It is important to establish a framework for this process at the outset, while retaining the flexibility to respond to changing conditions over the project’s expected two-year time frame.

Click on the links below for Participation Plan information:

Public Participation Plan Strategy Matrix (PDF 12KB)
Participation and Communication Plan (PDF 50KB)
Participation Plan Addendum (PDF 58 KB)
Participation Plan Addendum #2 (PDF 62 KB)

The City of Madison places a high priority on public participation in planning activities. The Comprehensive Plan process (2001 – 2006) employed a detailed participation strategy, as required by Wisconsin’s Comprehensive Planning legislation. Over twenty public meetings and a variety of events were held to engage and inform the public. The City’s neighborhood and corridor plans are also based on a high level of public participation, often being initiated at the request of neighborhood organizations.

Rewriting a zoning code differs from a comprehensive or area plan process, and therefore requires a different approach to participation. Essentially, the current zoning code is so detailed and specific, and its organization is so complex that it is difficult for the general reader to understand or navigate. At the same time, there will be a high level of public interest in the process, and many interest groups and organizations will want to be involved. The challenge is how to convey the meaning of this challenging document in such a way that citizens can understand the issues, compare the current code to the proposed new code, and make informed choices.

This plan establishes a basis for outreach to the community, including all those with a particular interest in the outcome, either as individuals or as representatives of a group. It covers the following topics:

• Who will oversee the process? Who will make decisions?
• How can specific organizations and interest groups and the broader community be involved?
• What are the respective roles of project consultants and City staff?
• How will other City departments and boards be involved?
• What communication techniques will be used throughout the process?
• How will the City adapt this participation plan to changing circumstances?
Who will oversee the process? Who will make decisions?

The Zoning Code Rewrite Advisory Committee
The code rewrite process is one that is likely to attract attention from a wide spectrum of citizens, including residents, landowners, business owners, and a variety of interest groups. In order to draw upon the experience of as broad a cross-section of the community as possible, the Common Council has appointed a Zoning Code Rewrite Advisory Committee (ZCRAC). The Committee includes representatives from the Common Council, the Plan Commission, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Urban Design Commission, neighborhood and business associations, the University of Wisconsin, the development community, and environmental, preservation, housing advocacy and other groups. This broad range of experience and viewpoints will allow the ZCRAC to function as both a decision-making body and a liaison to the constituencies of each member.

Plan Commission
The Plan Commission will receive regular briefings throughout the code development process. Several members will be appointed to the ZCRAC, and all members will be invited to attend ZCRAC meetings, public meetings and other events.

Common Council
The Common Council is the elected body that is ultimately responsible for adopting the new zoning code and map, following Plan Commission review. The Council will receive regular briefings throughout the process, at approximately quarterly intervals. Alders will be invited to attend all ZCRAC meetings, public meetings and other events.
Project Stakeholders – Summary of Roles and Responsibilities
The list below includes many of the elected and appointed bodies and organizations that are likely to be involved in the Zoning Code Rewrite either through involvement in project oversight and decision-making or through opportunities to review and comment on topics of particular interest. Many stakeholder groups will also be represented through appointment of members to the Zoning Code Rewrite Advisory Committee or to an Inter-Agency Work Group (discussed below). The list below is not all-inclusive, and is not intended to limit participation by any stakeholder group.

City Boards, Commissions and Committees
Zoning Code Rewrite Advisory Committee (ZCRAC)
Common Council*
Plan Commission*
Landmarks Commission*
Urban Design Commission*
Zoning Board of Appeals*
Other Committees and Commissions*
Neighborhood and Business Associations
Neighborhood Associations*
Neighborhood Business Associations*
Neighborhood Planning Councils
City Agencies
Department of Planning and Community and Economic Development
Planning Division**
Neighborhood Preservation and Inspection Division**
Community and Economic Development Division**
Public Works Divisions**
Other Stakeholders
Surrounding Towns, Cities and Villages
State of Wisconsin Departments and Agencies
Metropolitan Planning Organization
University of Wisconsin*
School Districts and Other Educational Institutions
Other Agencies, Interest Groups and Associations*
Residents, Businesses and Property Owners*
* Representation on Zoning Code Rewrite Advisory Committee
** Representation on Inter-Agency Work Group

Committee and Board Meeting Schedule
The code rewrite process will include approximately 8 ZCRAC meetings, 8 Plan Commission briefings, and 5 Council briefings. This schedule may be adjusted in the course of the project.

How will specific organizations and interest groups and the broader community be involved?
The Zoning Code Rewrite project is intended to be as inclusive of community interests as possible, and to provide a variety of ways for members of the public and interest groups to participate. The primary opportunity for participation is a series of community meetings to be held in three geographic sub-areas of the City at four points during the process (a total of 12 meetings). These meetings are designed as follows:


• Meeting 1: Issue identification: Give consultants the opportunity to listen and gauge initial thoughts and concerns and identify major issues; introduce project scope and duration and opportunities for attendees to become further involved.
• Meeting 2: Introduce and solicit public comment on the analysis of the existing zoning code and draft outline of the new code;
• Meeting 3: Introduce the entire draft zoning code and draft conceptual map (a general map that is not parcel-based). Identify remaining issues that need to be addressed in the zoning text. Discuss potential options for creating the new zoning map.
• Meeting 4: Review and comment on the draft parcel-based zoning map (this map will replace the current zoning map).


Two community summits will also be held at major junctures in the process, each in three sub-areas of the City (a total of six meetings) using an open house format. Staff, consultants and Committee members will be available to answer questions. There will be a brief presentation, along with a variety of methods for public feedback, including comment forms and maps that can be annotated. The resulting comments will then be synthesized for review and possible revisions to the final draft code and zoning map.
Other options for public involvement will include:


• Attending ZCRAC, Plan Commission or Council meetings – all meetings are open to the public.
• Receiving periodic updates by e-mail.
• Reviewing project updates, reports or zoning code drafts posted on the City’s web site.
• Providing input on the process through neighborhood meetings and meetings of other organizations.
• Providing comments to staff, consultants, ZCRAC members, Commissioners or Alders at any point during the process (it will be most efficient to channel comments through City staff).


What are the respective roles of project consultants and City staff?
Project consultants are Cuningham Group, an architectural and urban design firm based in Minneapolis, and their team members. Consultants are responsible for producing the new zoning code, map, and other products, and working collaboratively with City staff and project partners. Consultants will be facilitating all public and committee meetings and providing meeting minutes. They will be available for additional meetings in Madison at regular intervals during the process, as shown on the project schedule. Consultants will also provide information, such as powerpoint presentations or handouts, that can be used at the meetings of other organizations.

City staff will be responsible for managing the zoning code rewrite on a day-to-day basis, including arranging meeting times and locations, receiving and summarizing public input outside of meetings, posting information to the City web site, and responding to inquiries from the public and project stakeholders.

How will other City departments be involved?
Planning Division staff will take primary responsibility for managing the zoning code update process. An Inter-Agency Work Group will be created as a technical review committee to provide feedback and direction from all City departments with an interest in the process.

What communication techniques will be used throughout the process?
The most immediate and convenient vehicle for communication is the City’s Web site. The percentage of Madison homes connected to the Internet is one of the highest in the nation. The City will develop a special project page on its Web site dedicated to the zoning rewrite project. Meeting minutes and presentations, background reports, contact lists, and other project updates will be posted in conjunction with meetings and events. The zoning code outline and drafts may also be made available for review at key points in the process.

Other communication techniques will include:


• E-mail announcements to all who have signed up to receive them
• Press releases and other communication with local print, radio and television media;


How will the City adapt this participation plan to changing circumstances?

This participation plan is intended to be adaptable to changing circumstances. For example, if a particular issue or stakeholder group wishes to conduct additional meetings, or invite City staff or consultants to participate, we will make every effort to respond. The City’s goal is to complete the process in a timely manner while providing as many opportunities as possible for public involvement.