Tuesday night, the Madison Common Council will once again vote on creating neighborhood conservation districts. The ordinance, which lets neighborhoods stop development deemed out of character, has been defeated twice already and supporters had to fight to get it reconsidered.
Ald. Brenda Konkel hopes the outcome this time will be different.
"I think there are neighborhoods now that have figured out what the value of this ordinance is," she says. "It used to be just the downtown neighborhoods were anxious to have it. But now people out in Thuy [Pham-Remmele's] district are in support of this."
The ordinance wouldn't stop buildings from being demolished but it would let neighborhoods impose restrictions on new construction. Neighborhoods could mandate that new buildings include certain characteristics, such as porches, backyards or gabled roofs. The ordinance could also protect existing open spaces.
To appease critics, Konkel says the ordinance was tweaked "to make everyone more comfortable." For example, the city must now survey residents before a neighborhood conservation district is created. And Konkel says the bill's most vocal opponents, the Realtors and Downtown Madison Inc., are no longer fighting it.
But at least one local Realtor still thinks conservation districts are 'ideological tyranny." Tom Christensen posted to the East Isthmus Neighborhoods Planning Council's listserv today, asking, "Is this myopic power run amok?"
Christensen, who owns property on Schley Pass, one of the areas targeted for a conservation district, says the ordinance will take away property rights and could impede a neighborhood's ability to adapt. "I am suspicious that well motivated people are pushing limits that serve their fears of change," he wrote.
Konkel criticized Christensen's post for containing what she called "personal attacks."
"I could barely finish reading it due to your choice of style of delivery," she wrote on the listserv. "I honestly don't know what you said, cuz I was so pissed with your constant attacks."