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Click here for the First Settlement District Master Plan, July, 1995
Click here for the First Settlement Brayton Lot Planning Committee Report, August 7, 2001
Advisory Statement of Block 115, Updated December 2005

First Settlement District

Annual Report, 2012 by Jim Skrentny

It has been a relatively quiet year in the First Settlement District. Here are some highlights:

Phase 1 of planning was completed for the Judge Doyle Square development, the re-branded Public Market Square development of blocks 88 (Madison Municipal Building block) and 105 (Government East Parking Ramp block). This project, if developed, has the potential to significantly affect our neighborhood with the addition of tens of thousands of square feet for transportation and hotel uses along with retail, commercial and residential spaces and a below-grade parking ramp for up to 1500 vehicles. The outcome of phase 1 was the publishing of a report that includes recommendations to guide future development of this site. The next step is the initiation of a process for requesting and selecting development proposals with the goal of starting construction on block 88 in 2014. We will continue to seek neighborhood input and representation as the Mayor appoints citizens to the committee to oversee this process.

The Friends of the Crowley Station have made improvements to the Water Utility property at the foot of S. Franklin St. on E. Wilson St. Last summer, we replanted grasses in a narrow strip of ground between the building and sidewalk along Wilson St. after our first plantings were destroyed last spring by utility work. This second round of plants survived the winter and are doing very well. It's pleasing to see how this simple change has enlivened and softened the feel of what was an uninviting and rather harsh urban space. We've also had new bleacher and bench seating installed along with some free standing furniture and our neighborhood's very own Little Free Library. We're continuing to work on additional improvements and fund raising this summer, and we're always looking for volunteers to join us.

After four years in the making, the new Downtown Plan should finally be approved. Concern has been raised about a late change that essentially reincarnates the infamous PUD (Planned Unit Development) process that has caused struggles between downtown residents and developers over the contentious issue of building heights. While working on the new plan, we offered flexibility by accepting increased height limits in areas that otherwise would be lower due to our historic district ordinance believing that height limits would be set as a result of this plan. The new PDD (Planned Development District) process is likely to allow proposals to exceed these heights, which effectively removes the predictability that neighbors and, at one point, developers were seeking. With the Downtown Plan nearing completion, work moves forward on the new downtown zoning code, which we'll continue to monitor to ensure that it reflects the goals that we've expressed over the past four years.

Neighbors participated in a spring clean up by collecting garbage in the public areas of our neighborhood. Though the weekend of the event was cold and rainy, we managed to fill quite a few bags. You can help by taking a moment to clean up garbage that you see in the terraces and gutters.

Our historic district now has four homes with traditional wood roofs! Look up the next time you take a walk in our neighborhood and see how many you can find. Use of traditional materials and care of architectural details are valuable contributions to the richness and diversity of the built environment we enjoy.

The new two-flat residence at 14 S. Franklin St. has been completed and stands as a fine example of new construction that blends seamlessly with the surrounding historical homes.

Send me an email at jdspublic@sbcglobal.net if you're interested in joining the neighborhood listserv, participating in the neighborhood meetings, or volunteering for neighborhood projects.

Jim Skrentny
FSN Chair



First Settlement Neighborhood Advisory Statement

Development of Block 115

Updated December, 2005

Introduction .  In the spring of 2005 the First Settlement neighborhood held meetings for its residents to discuss proposed development of a substantial portion of Block 115. An advisory statement was developed at that time that was a summary of significant neighborhood concerns.

This document updates those concerns for future development proposals. The predominant sentiment of the neighborhood is that these concerns need to be addressed by any developer, the neighborhood, relevant city commissions and the common council, as any project proceeds

- Summary of Major Concerns -

Building Heights and Massing . The most significant concern for First Settlement residents is the height and massing of buildings. Block 115 is presently comprised of one-to-three story buildings (excluding exposed basements) with the majority having two stories. The neighborhood does not want to see development that would double and quadruple these heights with buildings of four to eight stories. Of particular interest to the neighborhood are:

+ Maintaining the integrity and scale of facades along Wilson Street .

+ Scaling buildings at the corners of Wilson and Franklin and of Main and Blair in a way that is consistent with the adjoining neighborhood.

+ Including setbacks and breaks in the massing of the proposed buildings that provide a pattern consistent with the adjoining historic neighborhood.

+ Paying particular attention to the relationships between any proposed buildings and grades to those on all adjacent properties. Having the opportunity to review a three-dimensional model of any proposed project and its immediate surroundings to assist in evaluating these and other massing issues.

Historic Districts. Neighborhood residents are determined that the First Settlement Historic District ordinance be honored in both substance and spirit. Particular concerns are that:

+ New construction is compatible with the height of the older buildings in the "visually-related area" within the First Settlement Historic District.

+ Infill of buildings is compatible with the scale, footprints and massing of the existing structures in Block 115 and contributes to the First Settlement’s village-like appeal.

+ Alternatives to demolition of 19 th and early 20 th century structures within the historic districts are thoroughly evaluated with the neighborhood and other interested parties.

+ No precedent is established that would adversely affect the First Settlement Historic District or adjacent historic districts.

Traffic and Safety. Neighborhood residents are concerned that the significant traffic and safety consequences of any project receive serious study.  Neighborhood residents would like to see a detailed review of traffic flow and volume generated by any proposed project, which includes:

+ Examining the consequences of the traffic flow from the project into Franklin and Main Streets and possible alternate configurations.

+ Modeling the effect the project would have on left-turning vehicular traffic, pedestrian crossing and bicycle traffic at the intersection where John Nolen Drive , Williamson Street, East Wilson Street and Blair Street converge, including consideration of turn signals at the Wilson-Blair crossing.

+ Studying the effects of the development on the personal safety of children, the elderly and residents in general.

Economics.  First Settlement residents desire a development that is both well-designed and offers a range of affordable housing options. While the developer’s assessment of economic feasibility is important, the neighborhood suggests a larger definition of goals and an approval process that could include:

+ Shared agreement between the neighborhood and the developer to seek a community diverse in income and residential composition that is desirable and affordable for all types of residents, from singles to families with children.

+ Establishment of a fixed number of affordable units consistent with a TIF application.

+ Availability of financial information similar to that furnished to the city with a TIF application. For the most effective neighborhood input, this financial information should be made available for neighborhood evaluation at an early stage.

+ Consideration of TIF funding for improvements to the Crowley Station Madison
Water Utility facility, located on the Southeast side of Wilson Street between Franklin and Hancock Streets.

+ Serious attention to the amenities in the project and the neighborhood to enhance
the historic character of the First Settlement district through building design, period lighting, landscaping, and open space.

Process. The First Settlement Neighborhood has learned a great deal from developer interest in Block 115. We are committed to improving the process for neighbors and developers. We will:

+ Clearly articulate our needs and concerns as they evolve.

+ Strive to thoroughly engaging all interested parties and perspectives.

+ Advocate more strongly for our interests and hold the development team accountable.

Conclusion:  The First Settlement neighborhood is at the intersection of two of Madison 's five local historic districts and a National Register Historic District. While we welcome development in Block 115, we will continue to be discriminating as we seek a high standard for developments within our neighborhood and particularly within the historic districts.

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