Matt Tucker, Madison's zoning administrator, knows that residents are going to have a hard time figuring out the city's newly proposed zoning regulations.
"In order to understand what the new provisions mean, you have to understand what the existing zoning is," he says. "That's kind of complex."
For instance, people might look at their property and see it's in an area that allows apartment buildings and conclude that they would be able to tear down their house and build an apartment building. "If you dig deeper into the code, in reality they can't, because they don't have enough land or parking," Tucker says.
The city began rewriting its zoning ordinances about three years ago, and the process is finally nearing completion. In March, the Common Council approved the new zoning code (PDF), which defined each zoning-use type (what is permissible in residential neighborhoods, for instance). Now it has completed the first draft of the zoning map, which applies these zones throughout the city. Says Tucker, "We think it's a good first cut, but we know there'll be changes."
The new maps will be coming to a neighborhood near you for review, beginning Sept. 7, when the first public hearing is held at the city of Madison East Side Streets Facility, 4602 Sycamore Ave., from 4 to 8 p.m. Also in the works is a website where residents will be able to enter their address to see what the old and new codes allow. (Click here for a complete list of hearings.)