Controversial terms removed from Comp Plan

Tia Lynn Ivey News

A draft of Madison’s Comprehensive Plan, a long-term visionary document laying out the goals for Madison’s future, was tweaked and approved at Monday evening’s Mayor and City Council Meeting, after another public hearing.  Changes centered around adding protections for the Historic District and revising controversial language that was previously criticized at the last public hearing for the Comp Plan Draft.

At the last public hearing, complaints over the inclusion the terms “racism” and “classism” in a self-assessment portion on social and economic development of the appendix of the Comp Plan, prompted the council to revise the section before passing the draft—deleting both controversial terms from the text.

The original statement read: “Madison has studied a range of housing issues (vacant lots and undeveloped land, valuations, neighborhood destabilization, market demand, rising construction, costs, homelessness, and objections to modest infill.  Variable housing options are being explored for current /future Urban Redevelopment Areas to avoid further classism and racism conflicts in more affluent areas.”

The council opted to change it to: “Variable housing options are being explored for current /future Urban Redevelopment Areas to accommodate more economically inclusive and socially diverse neighborhoods. “

The council also added language designed to further protect the Historic District from inappropriate development.

Under the section for “Traditional Residential Areas, character area descriptions, historic neighborhoods and modern subdivisions,” the council opted to add the clause that  “minimal growth can be accommodated by infill in existing residential areas.”

The council pushed for the change after Celia Murray, on behalf of the Madison Historic Coalition, spoke during the public hearing portion of the meeting, pleading with members to add stronger language to protect the Historic District.

“The Historic District is without question culturally and economically valuable to the community. It’s been regionally recognized as an important resource,” said Murray. “The concern of the coalition is that while the comp plan does acknowledge the Historic District, it does not afford much protection for the Historic District. Murray argued that the previous comp plan contained stronger protections for the Historic District, but City Planner Monica Callahan that the Comp Plan, even the former Comp Plan, may not provide as much protection as people think.

“The community is not in agreement on what appropriate density is,” said Callahan, who noted the section in question addresses multiple areas of the city.

“I am not being ugly, but the Historic District is not any more important than any of our other districts, I think we have to remember all of our residents. It’s harder to write a density that suits the entire city. It’s just too diverse.”

“Also, as an administrator of the preservation ordinance for 20 years, I don’t think this provides the level of protection they think it does,” said Callahan of the Comp Plan addition.  “People will still disagree on what ‘minimal’ in-fill is.”

The council unanimously voted to approve the Comp Plan Draft. The draft will be sent to Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs for review before it is sent back to the city to be finalized.

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