Planners vote 5-4 for event facilities in Madison
By Stephanie Johns
Morgan County Planning Commissioners had one of their closest votes last Thursday night. Five were in favor and four were against a text amendment to add event facilities to the City of Madison Zoning Ordinance.
Madison City Planner Bryce Jaeck shared details of the city’s current zoning ordinance.
He said that if the zoning ordinance does not specifically allow a use, it is prohibited, hence the request for a text amendment.
He noted that event facilities already are allowed as an accessory use. For example, a restaurant may rent out space for a lunch meeting or a bed and breakfast may rent out space for a wedding reception.
A person could already have an event in the city right now, he said.
He said he had not received any comments from the public either for or against the request.
Dan Moore of Monroe, who requested the text amendment, said he has had the space in Jefferson Square since it opened. He said that maximum capacity would be 100 people and no more. As to parking for those people, he would be required to provide one spot for every four people for a total of 25 spots.
Moore shared two possibilities for parking: Ginger McFadden has 60 spots as well as additional spots in the Bank of Madison’s lot, which is not restricted after hours.
Regarding noise concerns, Moore pointed out that Jefferson Square was designed as a mixed-use facility. He added that events at his facility might range from business meetings to birthday parties to rehearsal dinners.
Commissioner John McMahon asked who would be on-site for the events.
Moore said he would not be able to be at all of the events but there would be someone to unlock and lock the doors.
Mike Conrads and Theresa Bishop spoke in opposition of the amendment. Conrads said he spoke on behalf of his sister, Linda Conrads, who lives above Moore’s proposed event facility.
Conrads said his sister was concerned about traffic and parking as well as the lack of restrictions on the proposed facility’s operating hours.
He added that the covenants do not have restrictions pertaining to noise and odor. He suggested Commissioners consider the facility as a conditional use instead.
Commissioner Scott Campbell said that it was odd that there are no restrictions.
“That could have been addressed years ago by the condo association,” he said.
Bishop said that she owns a retail space near the proposed facility. Speaking on behalf of the upstairs residents, she said an event facility is not what they expected.
“I ask that you protect them,” she said.
Commissioner John McCarthy said that Godfreys Feed makes “a heck of a noise” and that the train goes by at least once a day. In addition to that, sometimes a band plays in Town Park, which he said he could hear whether he liked the music or not.
Their next vote regarding a text amendment pertaining to Planned Residential Districts (PRD) to the City of Madison Zoning Ordinance ended with seven in favor and two against.
The proposed amendment follows:
“Additionally, any proposed Planned Residential District (PRD) that lies within the historic Preservation Overlay District be limited to single family (detached) units, thereby precluding any two-family or multi-family units in the district.”
Madison residents James McManus, Elizabeth Bell, and Clint Buchanan spoke in favor of the text amendment.
McManus mentioned a housing project that caused controversy earlier in the year. He noted that there were no surveys taken regarding the need for such housing, nor the impact on traffic it would cause, nor of nearby homeowners to provide details of the proposed project.
“There is little doubt that the question of multi-family housing units will rise again,” he said.
He suggested that the word “shall” be added between the words “District” and “be” in the proposed sentence.
Bell said that the nature of the historic district is single family and that to allow multi-family dwellings there could adversely affect the impact it has on tourists who come to Madison to see the historic district. She added that attrition could affect the district’s standing on the Historic Register.
“That would be a huge mistake,” she said.
She suggested that the phrase “wholly or partially” be added between “lies” and “within.”
Buchanan urged Commissioners to protect the character of the historic district in Madison.
“It’s a definite asset,” he said. “It’s a big draw.”
After Commissioner’s vote, the text amendment read as follows:
“Additionally, any proposed Planned Residential District (PRD) that lies wholly or partially within the historic Preservation Overlay District shall be limited to single family (detached) units, thereby precluding any two-family or multi-family units in the district.”
In other news, Commissioners re-elected Lehman as Chair, Faye Craft as Vice Chair, and Tara Cooner as Secretary.
Printed in the December 27, 2012 edition