Tucker says the code is 'working very well.'
Madison spent years completely rewriting its zoning code, which went into effect on Jan. 2, 2013.
Since then, city officials have been watching to see how the code functions. Matt Tucker, the city's zoning code administrator, believes it might still need some tweaks, but overall it is doing its job.
"It's working very well," Tucker says. Even though there have been a few controversial projects -- such as the mixed-used development at Knickerbocker and Monroe streets -- Tucker says the process is now "clearer. The code is easier to use."
Eric Sundquist, a member of the Plan Commission, agrees, for the most part. He notes that a main goal of the rewrite was to minimize the use of "planned development" projects that need to have special, conditional zoning designations because they don't fit into any of the city's defined zones.
"We've gotten many fewer of those," he says. "There are fewer negotiated projects. That was the goal. It wasn't to take power away [from developers or residents], it was to be specific upfront about what you can do and can't do."
The planning department has compiled a list of issues that still need to be addressed. Some of these are very minor, such as resolving an "inconsistency on whether farmers' markets are allowed in" limited mixed-use districts.
But some big issues linger. One concerns the large mixed-use developments. The city is looking at clarifying the types of mixed-use developments it allows, to provide better guidance and understanding about height requirements, setbacks and usable open space.
A few new zones are also being considered, Tucker says. One involves creating a zone for "tiny house" developments. This is not to address the Occupy Madison development currently proposed, but to allow for commercial "mini-house" developments, which have occurred in other cities.
Sundquist notes that a conflict persists from when the zoning code was being rewritten. Some people wanted the code to reflect what the city looks like now; others wanted it to be more aggressive about what kinds of development people want to see. For instance, zoning might require developers to more proactively manage transportation.
The aggressive camp -- which included Sundquist -- lost that debate, he says.
Still, Sundquist sees the new code as an improvement. "We knew when we redrafted it that there would be things that got fixed and things that didn't."