Planning Commission rejects variance request

Staff Written News

By  Patrick Yost


The Madison Planning Commission last Thursday rejected a request by Alex Newton for a variance on a lot off Fourth Street that would have allowed him to place two accessory structures on the lot without a primary structure.

The planning commission unanimously voted against recommending the variance to the Madison City Council, in part, because the group said, the request failed five of seven standards the commission reviewed. 

According to Mollie Bogle, Madison city planner, Newton was attempted to place a “saddlebag” house on the lot that he would restore. 

Dan Adams, speaking on behalf of Newton, said Newton approached Adams to help him move and restore a structure he located in Buckhead. “It’s identical,” Adams said of a structure that had once been on the lot. 

“The pitch, the doors, the location of the chimney… that’s what got us to this point.”

Planning Commission Joe Houston said he did not disagree with the historical element of the project but he did disagree with the zoning implications. 

“I don’t think there’s an issue with the concept of this project… I don’t think we have a problem with the historic preservation aspect of what Mr. Newton is attempting to do. It still boils down to our position on the zoning issue, which hasn’t changed.”

Two weeks ago the Madison Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) refused to issue a letter of support for the request. In that ruling, the HPC “affirms its support for using historic structures to revive historic neighborhood, but cannot support this specific request.”

Madison Planning Commission Member Herb Anderson also questioned why there was a variance request. 

“There is a viable way for him to accomplish what he wants to to do to accomplish this without violating the ordinance.”

However, Anderson said, “We support his intention.”

“There’s nothing wrong with his goal but his approach is incorrect,” Houston said.

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