Madison, Wisconsin Engaged in Zoning Reform

I don’t know the details about what is going on in Madison, but this article in the State-Journal caught my eye.

Apparently the city is engaged in a re-working of its zoning code with an emphasis on “environmental sustainability.”  Among the changes being discussed in the latest draft:

  • Reducing the minimum parking requirements for commercial buildings.  One of the reasons you see a sea of asphalt surrounding your local Big Box retailer is because traditional zoning codes often require that a minimum proportion of the lot be dedicated to parking.  New Urbanists have been arguing for years that zoning codes should include maximums, rather than minimums.  Too much parking results in a degraded environment and an expectation that automobiles should be the primary mode of transport.

    Photo of Madison: Jon Mallard
    Photo of Madison: Jon Mallard
  • Allowing for urban agriculture and gardening.  According to the article, there will be no prohibition on the siting of community gardens and special permission could be granted for small scale agricultural projects.  This is a nice effort to promote local sustainability and food security.
  • Allows for “granny flats” to be built over garages.  This is another New Urbanist staple.  It diversifies the housing stock in neighborhoods, offers a bit of income to home owners, and can enhance affordability

The process of reform is ongoing, but if this article is any indication Madison appears to be on a positive track.