The reason for the zoning change was explained mostly during questions and answers later. C1 allows for mostly commercial development with some residential, and only 2 stories or 40 feet in height. There are open space and setback (from curb) requirements that the planned development couldn’t meet.
The zoning laws are old and haven’t been changed since 1966, so C1 is no longer very relevant. The laws are currently being updated. But most developments of this type now are PUD. The SIP part allows for specific requirements for the development to be built in to the plan. There are three stages of public approval. The final step is approval by the Common Council, which might happen two months after the final plan is proposed by the developer.
The site for Parman Place is called the “Glenway Node” of the Monroe Street Design District. That, and the neighborhood plan, call for redevelopment of this site “up to four stories.”
Apparently, when the plan left neighborhood hands, it listed the site for redevelopment “up to 2 stories.” Later, Brian Solomon explained that this change probably happened because it is City policy to favor “urban infill,” where the city builds upward (to greater density), rather than outward (urban sprawl).
Under the Planned Unit Development zoning, both the Plan Commission and ordinances will push for
- Compatibility with the physical nature of the site
- Aesthetic desirability and economic stability
- Will consider effects on schools and municipal services
- Will consider traffic and parking demands
- Preservation and maintenance of open space
The second floor will have 15? apartments.
The Third floor houses 8 apartments, with a step back.
The total is 22 apartments, with parking available for 19 cars. Three apartments are efficiencies, 15 are one bedroom, and four are two bedrooms.
There will be landscaping by Peter Nause.
Questions and answers (paraphrased)
- Appearance--four stories are too high for character of nationhood
- Lack of buffer--project very close to residents located behind it
- Impact on parking in area. Some people working downtown already use the area as “park and ride”
- Impact on traffic congestion and safety
A: The development will aggravate problems that already exist, but the Traffic Dept. will definitely be involved, to help solve these problems.
Q: Can you assure us that during construction, all the laws about erosion control will be scrupulously followed, so there isn’t a repeat of the disaster of sediment spills that happened during Edgewood Avenue reconstruction? The City doesn‘t police construction sites, and has never handed out fines.”
A: by Landgraft: “We’ve never been issued a citation.” Laughs. “Yes, we will follow all requirements.”
It quickly became evident that the majority of people present were opposed to the development, at least in its present form. Although a few people made statements with obvious emotion, discussion remained polite and considerate.
Q: Can you really build a big basement for parking successfully, in such a wet area? During storms, floods of water come down Glenway and Monroe Streets.
A: We will have sump pumps, and a rain garden. We’ve built in other areas, with basements below the lake level. (Our comment: Note the continuing energy requirement for pumping.)
Q: One neighbor said the area was dark and quiet an night, and was very concerned about light pollution.
A: There will be security lights on all night.
Q: Is sale of the property a done deal, or contingent?
A: Sale is contingent on passing all the regulatory hurdles for this project.
Statement by one resident: “We shouldn’t even be having this conversation about the height of the project, because the plan we sent out from the neighborhood said that there shouldn’t be a development this high.” (Much applause from the audience.)
Alder Solomon made a strong argument for infill development, saying that it was good for the City as a whole. It was an issue of building up or building out (sprawl). Sprawl leads to more commuting traffic, loss of the rural surrounds of the city, energy waste, and pollution. He implied that many residents of the district were environmentalists, and might be in favor of infill. One resident replied, with fervor: “Don’t tell us what we want or what to do!” (Solomon denied that he was.)
Q: Tiny, curbless Wyota Street can’t handle the traffic.
A: Some wanted the entrance to parking far from the intersection, and others wanted it close to the intersection, to benefit from the traffic light. We’ve done a compromise between the two.
Q: About the location of the rain garden.
A: It hasn’t been determined yet. Water will leave the site at a slower rate than the current property, which is entirely paved, due to the rain garden and cisterns we will build.
One resident said: “I don’t have a problem with the fourth floor--but I DO have a problem with the first through the third floors.” Many laughs.
A show of hands revealed that about a quarter of the people present had a problem with the fourth story and/or the density of the project.
Q: Will there be pollution problems with removal of the fuel tanks at Parman’s Service Station?
A: The tanks have already been removed, the cleanup is done and certified.
Q: How will the commercial space compare to areas I am familiar with?
A: Mallatt’s Pharmacy has about 1000 square feet, so this development at 3300 squ ft will be more than 3 times Mallatt’s.
Q: This development will change what the neighborhood’s like. What good things can this bring other than dollars to the developer?
A: Considerable discussion, but the boildown is this: There are citywide benefits from “infill.” There will be less through traffic in the neighborhood (due to commuting), and there will be amenities from the commercial space, such as restaurants. There will be stability and job creation (from the property management, commercial use, and construction jobs). It will be a livable corner.
Lynne Asked: The development seems out of scale with the neighborhood. How does this relate to the change in zoning?
A: We want to change to PUD zoning for two reasons. The intensity will exceed the current zoning. There are other details, such as parking, closeness to the curb, which C1 doesn’t allow, but PUD does. PUD give the project flexibility, because the details are customized and built in to the approval.
The Architect stated that Mallatt’s has decided not to become part of the development now. But the whole block will eventually be renovated. This project is planned to be compatible with whatever the rest of the block becomes.
Statement by Sam, whose property abuts on the rear: The row of tall spruce trees on my property edge will certainly be killed during construction by root damage. So don’t depend on the trees hiding the new development. They won’t be there.
Statement: “My family operates a bakery. Any restaurant in this development will have to have food delivered by SYSCO, they deliver in semi trucks, and there is no room for semi’s here. So that precludes any restaurants in the commercial space.
A: by Fred Rouse: We also operate a restaurant, and our deliveries from SYSCO do not come in semi’s. This is not an issue.
The meeting concluded with a straw vote: Sixty to seventy percent want another meeting on the development, after traffic and safety issues are addressed. One person asked that alders from neighboring districts, and residents from further away be invited.
My comments after the meeting
There's a rumor that a "green roof" is being considered for Parman Place. This would be consitent with the high standards of "green infrastructure" being planned by City Engineering for the Monroe Street reconstruction, planned for 2013. The reconstruction of Monroe St. will be the test bed for a new policy of green streets for Madison.
If Parman Place really gets a green roof, this might help with marketing of the Glenway Node and Parman Place apartments as an innovative development, consistent with the beautiful Arboretum setting and the green street around it.
Note: If there are any errors, let me know, and I'll correct them.
More on green roofs.