The city of Madison has a policy of not scheduling meetings on Election Day. Dane County has "an understanding," says Board Chair Scott McDonell. "We have had trouble with quorum."
But the city of Fitchburg has no such policy. So on Tuesday night, at 7 p.m., Fitchburg's Plan Commission held its regular meeting. Because it was Election Day, Mayor Tom Clauder vowed ahead of time to keep the meeting short: "We're not going to be there all night." (True enough, the meeting adjourned at 9:20.)
Clauder considered canceling the meeting, but "people seemed to want to meet, so I left it alone."
On the Plan Commission's agenda were two controversial issues: Fitchburg's Southdale Neighborhood Plan and a presentation on the Drumlin Garden. The city wants to remake the mostly low-income Southdale neighborhood into a mixed-use urban development, with a commuter rail stop. The plan also calls for relocating the Drumlin community gardens, which will be plowed under as Randy Alexander develops Novation Campus, a $120 million, 70-acre office park.
About 25 people showed up at the meeting, to testify in favor of the gardens. Clauder says the election night meeting was not done to sneak the controversial redevelopment through: "There's nothing done deliberately to get people not to talk."
But the commission ultimately voted to refer the issue for 30 days, says Clauder, "so it would give us time to talk to Alexander."