The provisions of the Zoning Code zone each parcel of land in the City of Madison. Each zoning district has rules for the use of land and buildings. The districts also specify spatial relationships in that district. Some of these relationships include building height, setbacks and open space. These rules exist to preserve the basic health, safety and welfare of the general public. The rules also encourage the existence of complementary uses throughout the City. For more information, please see MGO Sec. 28.184.

If an owner wants to use their property in a way that is not allowed by the current zoning district, they may request a change to a zoning district that would permit their proposed use. This process is referred to as a zoning map amendment, or a rezoning. To rezone, the Plan Commission must make a recommendation to the Common Council. The Council must then adopt an ordinance. In general, the rezoning must follow adopted City plans.

In special cases, unique developments are proposed that do not fit into the conventional zoning districts. For these projects, the property may be rezoned to a Planned Development (PD) district. PDs are site-specific zoning solutions. PDs typically have no predetermined requirements for land use, lot area lot width, building height, floor area ratio, useable open space, or off-street parking. These items are part of an approved and recorded development plan as agreed upon by the owner and the City. For more information on PDs, please see MGO Sec. 28.091.


Process Overview

  1. Discuss with City Zoning & Planning

    If you wish to rezone your property, you must first meet with Planning and Zoning. To schedule a meeting, start by calling Planning at (608) 266-4635.

    At the meeting, we will discuss your project proposal. Please bring with you any plans or surveys of the site.

  2. Before submitting your application, we encourage you to discuss your proposal with

    • your district alder
    • neighborhood association
    • nearby property owners

    30 days before filing your application, you or your agent must notify in writing:

    • the alderperson for the property's district
    • the neighborhood association(s) for the property

    You may send the written notification by US Mail or email.

  3. Submit Application

    You must submit rezoning application materials to Zoning. Any person, firm, or corporation with a freehold interest in the property may submit a rezoning application.

    What to Include
    • A completed Land Use Application form [check the applicable “Rezoning” box(es)].
    • A legal description of the property prepared by a licensed surveyor, engineer or title company. You must submit the description in MS Word format on a CD or as part of an email attachment. Use the email address located on the last page of the application form.
    • A letter of intent that outlines the nature of the requested zoning map amendment. It must provide details about the project requiring the rezoning.
    • The review fee (make check payable to City of Madison Treasurer.)
    • Any other specific information describing the impact of the project.
    • Specific site plans as required by staff.

    Zoning staff will review the application at time of submittal for completeness. If complete, Zoning will forward the application will on.

  4. Notices and Public Hearings

    Public hearings will be scheduled once we have accepted the application for review. The required public hearings are through the Plan Commission and Common Council. We will notify property owners and occupants within 200 feet of the property of the application and the hearing dates. We also run the request is the City's official newspaper. We also provide a sign for you to post on the property. We will inform you of the time and place of the public hearing by letter.

    The review process for zoning map amendments is approximately 10 to 12 weeks. It starts from the date we receive the application to the scheduled action by the Common Council.

    In rezonings that involve Planned Unit Developments, you must get a recommendation on the design of the project from the Urban Design Commission (UDC). Afterwards, the Plan Commission and Common Council can review.

  5. Rezoning Approval

    If the application to rezone is approved, Planning will send you or your agent a letter. This letter will outline the conditions of approval. Usually, you will have to meet the conditions in the letter before we can issue permits for the project. City staff will help verify that you are ready for a permit.


Related Forms & Handouts