City unanimously approves new zoning classification
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
City council members recently approved changes to the Madison zoning ordinances and accompanying map that creates a new commercial zoning classification in the city, the C-5 district.
The new C-5 areas of the city were all areas that were previously classified as I-1. The changes were made in areas of former I-1 property that were occupied by a preponderance of commercial uses, as opposed to true industrial or manufacturing uses.
“Staff was asked by the Mayor and Council to find ways to protect the industrial component of the I-1 Light Industrial/Limited Commercial Zoning District from commercial encroachment and consider altering uses to protect future industrial development,” wrote City Planner Bryce Jaeck in a staff report on the zoning changes. “When staff examined the uses allowed in I-1 and the actual uses of the properties comprising the district, it became clear that the majority of the listed uses were commercial in nature in both cases,” said Jaeck.
In other words, the city’s precious and limited industrial land areas were slowly becoming commercial in nature. Rather than limit the commercial uses of the I-1 district and risk having a majority of the parcels of land in those zones become “non-conforming” and “grandfathered” uses, city planners noted that most of the commercial-type uses in I-1 were clustered in certain areas, thus suggesting the creation of a new classification.
“The guiding principle to the C-5 district is heavy commercial uses,” wrote Jaeck. “By creating a C-5 district the City provides a location for these [heavy commercial] activities and can also encourage their development away from major commercial corridors.
“Heavy commercial” uses now limited to C-5 districts include such enterprises as storage facilities, mechanical services, contractor facilities, building supply retailers and wholesalers, welding, auto repair, and other such businesses. I-1 zones, by contrast, permit businesses needing warehouse storage of wholesale or bulk products, outdoor storage of vehicles and heavy equipment, operations oriented toward working, adult portions of the population, and operations requiring large tracts of land necessary for heavy vehicle circulation, among other uses.
The review of the I-1 Light Industrial district came about because of a request by local entrepreneurs late last year for a conditional use in I-1 for a children’s inflatable indoor playground. Although council members did not object to the business itself locating in Madison, they were concerned about the continuing conversion of I-1 land for commercial purposes, and requested the review of I-1 uses after ultimately denying the applicant’s request to locate in the industrial zones.
Council members unanimously approved the addition of the C-5 district and the changes to the zoning map at their last regular meeting on June 10.