Planning says no to zoning change in district

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By Patrick Yost

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The Madison Planning Commission last Thursday denied a request to rezone approximately two acres in Madison’s Historic District from Residential 1 (R1) to Residential 2 (R2).

Property owner Alex Newton requested both a variance on lot size and a rezoning on property off Fourth Street in the Historic District.

Newton, in a letter to the planning commission, stated that the requests were, in part, an effort to “enable me to restore the two turn–of–the century, 2–room saddlebag cottages on 3rd Street… and at 564 4th Street…”

“These cottages are both in bad condition, especially the one on 4th Street,” Newton wrote. “A noted Madison architect told me that it’ll cost more to restore them than to build entirely new buildings or guesthouses of the same size. It makes no financial sense for anyone to try and restore them, which is why they are in the condition they are.”

Two members of the Historic Madison Coalition, of which Newton is also a member, spoke against the request. Celia Murray stated that the request was an attempt to settle an estate matter. “That is not a proper reason for rezoning,” she told the commission.

Theresa Bishop said that neither request was necessary to complete renovation of the structures. “Those two cottages can be restored now.”

The commission apparently agreed. “I don’t understand what is keeping him from doing what he wants to do,” said member Sherry Terrell–Alexander.

“The current zoning is not prohibitive to restoring those two structures,” said member Joe Houston.

The planning commission denied a map amendment request by Newton that, if approved, would have led to a hearing on a zoning change request. The commission tabled any decision on the zoning change request until after the map amendment request is heard by the Madison City Council.

The council will hear the requests at its regular Oct. 9 meeting.

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