The Madison Plan Commission voted 7-2 Monday evening to approve the city's Downtown Plan, which has been in the works for four years. The Common Council will take up the plan at its last meeting in July.
Plan Commission member Eric Sundquist, one of the two members who voted against the plan, is opposed to its recommendation to fill in part of Lake Monona in order to expand the lakeshore to create a "signature park" east of Monona Terrace.
"That's a deal killer for me," Sundquist said. "I just can't support [the Downtown Plan] with that in it."
Sunquist pointed out that the plan said there would be "limited filling to expand the shoreline," but he insisted that the filling would be "substantial."
Several amendments were added before the commission approved the plan. The commission agreed to keep West Washington terraces "public amenities," or owned by the public rather than businesses or private entities. Members also agreed to separate the West Washington area as a new district, apart from the Mifflin district. Ald. Marsha Rummel argued the West Washington neighborhood has its own character and should be recognized separately. As amended, the plan now outlines 12 districts in downtown Madison, each with "permeable boundaries."
Recommendations in the downtown plan for the Mifflin neighborhood have been some of the most hotly debated. Ald. Mike Verveer says he is "not 100% satisfied with where the plan rests."
During a public hearing that preceded deliberations by the commission, Verveer testified that the Mifflin neighborhood should remain primarily residential. Under the plan, however, the neighborhood would most likely evolve into a "mixed" neighborhood with residences, offices and businesses.
Verveer said that if the "face of the [Mifflin] neighborhood" is going to be changed, "step-backs" are needed in order to avoid what he calls a "canyon effect" -- a cluster of tall office buildings and shorter residences.
Downtown Madison Inc. president Susan Schmitz said the process for developing the plan was inclusive. "Everybody came to the table and they all cared," she said.
Delora Newton of the Madison Chamber of Commerce praised the plan and the commission for its hard work over the last four years as the Downtown Plan was developed.