March 31, 2020 Note:

Given that the Planning and Zoning offices are currently closed to the public and many staff are working remotely due to COVID-19, staff has temporarily updated our application submittal requirements and Commission meeting schedules. While we are currently working to update the information on this page as well as the corresponding application form, in the meantime, please make sure to review the overview of the revised submittal process and requirements for Land Use Applications noted on the Planning Division’s Development webpage.


The Plan Commission is required to grant approval of demolition permits for all principal structures in the City of Madison. Examples of principal structures include most single-family residences, multi-family buildings and large commercial structures. Accessory structures like residential garages and sheds are exempted and do not require Plan Commission approval. The purpose of the review of demolition requests is to aid in the implementation of adopted City plans, to protect neighborhood character, preserve historic buildings, and encourage the reuse and/or relocation of existing buildings. Demolition permit approval is also required in order for a principal building to be removed or relocated from its current property (For more information, please see Madison General Ordinance Sec. 28.185).

If the Director of the Building Inspection Division has determined that a principal building is structurally unsound, the Zoning Administrator may issue a demolition approval for a building if it has not been used at any time as a single-family or multi-family residential dwelling and is not a landmark or in a local Historic District or a Neighborhood Conservation District.

Process Overview

  1. Discuss with City Zoning & Planning

    Applicants for any project including a demolition permit for a principal building must first meet with Zoning and Planning staff before submitting their application. (Note: Given that the Planning and Zoning offices are currently closed to the public and many staff are working remotely due to COVID-19, these meetings are being done virtually, via videoconference.) Please call Planning at (608) 266-4635 and Zoning (608) 266-4551 to schedule an appointment to discuss your project.

    Find out the zoning for your property

  2. Notify Alder, Neighborhood Association and Interested Parties

    The applicant is strongly encouraged to discuss their proposal with the district alder and neighborhood association and nearby property owners prior to submitting their application.

    Regardless, the applicant or their agent is required to notify - via e-mail or US Mail - any of the following parties (who serve the subject site(s)), at least 30 days prior to filing their application. 

    1. The alderperson (click here for a map of the aldermanic districts),
    2. Any City-registered neighborhood association(s), and
    3. Any City-listed business association(s)

    Please note: 

    • This notice must clearly state that the applicant is “intending to file an application for a demolition permit" (and conditional use, zoning map amendment, etc., if applicable), it must state the date the applicant intends to submit (for a list of submittal dates, please refer to the Development Review Schedule), and specify the project address. If this notice requirement is not met, an application will not be accepted. Notices may also include other information such as contact information, timelines, or descriptions of the proposal.
    • The alderperson and the Director of Planning & Community & Economic Development may waive or reduce the 30-day notification requirement. A copy of the pre-application notification letters or any correspondence granting a waiver or reduction of the 30 days is required to be submitted as part of the application materials.

    Demolition Listserv. Prior to the filing of an application that includes a demolition permit approval from the Plan Commission, the applicant or their agent is also required to notify a list of interested persons registered with the City within the same timeframe as the written notification requirement above. Please use the Demolition Permit interested parties notification web tool.

    Landmarks Commission Review. Following submittal, the Landmarks Commission will informally review the demolition and make a recommendation to the Plan Commission regarding the historic value of the property.

  3. Submit Application

    Except for special circumstances, you will need to submit an application for a demolition permit approval to the Plan Commission. If the building to be demolished is an historic landmark or in an historic district, you may also be required to receive approval from the Landmarks Commission prior to submittal of your application. Please contact the City’s preservation planner at (608) 266-6552 for more information on the Landmarks Commission process.

    What to Include

    A public hearing before the Plan Commission will be scheduled once the application has been accepted for review. Property owners and occupants within 200 feet of the boundaries of the property will be notified of the application and the hearing date. The request is also advertised in the City’s official newspaper and a sign is provided for the applicant to post on the property. The applicant will be informed of the time and place of the public hearing in a letter sent by the Zoning Administrator following submittal of your application.

  4. Following Plan Commission Approval

    If the applicant’s application to demolish the structure is approved, the Planning Division will send the applicant or their agent a letter outlining the conditions of the approval. Once the conditions in the letter have been met as verified by City staff, a building permit to raze the structure(s) may be issued.

    In general, you may need to complete the following as part of receiving permits to demolish your structure:

    • Sewer Plug Permit is necessary to plug the existing laterals so that materials do not migrate into the sewerage system. The existing laterals may be abandoned or may be reused. The sewer plugging inspection fee is $100 and there is a $900 deposit.
    • Water Service Meters must be properly removed. Please contact the Water Meter Shop at (608) 266-4765.
    • Private Utilities (including telephone, cable TV, gas, electrical or any other private service for the property). The owner or designee must contact the individual companies that provide private utility service to building that is being demolished to ensure that the appropriate utilities services are properly disconnected or removed prior to demolition.
    • If an area of 4,000 square feet or more of land is being disturbed, then an Erosion Control Plan is required.
    • A Reuse & Recycling Plan, which is approved by the City’s recycling coordinator.
  5. Obtain Permit

    After the Plan Commission approves the demolition permit and the conditions of that approval have been satisfied, the applicant may obtain a building permit to raze the building at the Plans Review/ Permit Counter in the Department of Planning and Community & Economic Development offices at the address above. The minimum demolition permit fee for an accessory building is $20 and for a single-family house is $150. The exact fees will be determined at the time the permit is issued.

    The building permit to demolish is valid for 6 months; once the demolition begins, the permit expires in 30 days. City inspectors will visit the site during and after demolition to insure that the work complies within City and State Building Ordinances.

    Remember to call the utility companies to disconnect service before demolition starts.


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