By Tia Lynn Ivey
The Madison Mayor and City Council have decided to revisit the controversial Planned Residential Developments (PRD) debate, which has been a point of contention between interested developers, city officials and historic district residents in recent years.
Opponents of PRDs in the Historic District were thrilled in December when the Council voted 3-2 to abolish PRDs altogether from the Historic District in Madison. But it soon came out that one of the council members, Chris Hodges, casted her vote by mistake, thinking she was voting to keep PRDs in the Historic District.
“I think we are going to have a very healthy dialogue about how PRDs could fit into the historic district and what role the Historic Preservation Commission plays,” said Hodges. “That’s always been the most important thing to me, so I think it’s actually good that we to hit the restart button this.”
The amendment to abolish PRDs in the residential Historic District was crafted by Historic District residents James Orr, Elizabeth Bell, and Celia and Walter Murray. But now that amendment that passed just in December may be reversed.
The opposition to PRDs in the Historic District grew earlier this year because of one controversial project proposed on Foster Street. Developer Brad Good, whose plans for a subdivision to be built on Foster Street in the Historic District were thwarted by a previously unenforced mandate in the city’s current zoning ordinance. The developers were seeking to rezone the 12-plus acre property that features the historic Foster-Thomason-Miller house on Main Street to facilitate the development of a brand new 37-house residential subdivision with an entryway on Foster Street. The project was fiercely opposed by residents in the Historic District who fear the development will be “too dense” for the area, cause traffic congestion, parking problems, noise, potentially decrease property values in the Historic District, and diminish local tourism.
The council’s vote in December took away the possibility of the Foster Street development from ever coming to fruition, unless PRDs are reinstated in the Historic District.
The council will discuss those possibilities at future meetings and if they decide to proceed with another vote to change the PRD policy in the Historic District, they will advertise public hearings prior to that vote.