The Urban Design Commission was barred from discussing plans to renovate the 100 block of State Street at its meeting Wednesday night because of a city ordinance provision that had been previously overlooked.

According to Urban Design Commission secretary Al Martin, a zoning ordinance prevented the committee from taking action on the renovation plans before Landmarks Commission could address them.

The Landmarks Commission voted at its Monday evening meeting to refer its discussion on the State Street renovation plans to its next meeting to allow Urban Design Commission to make revision suggestions.

According to an email from Madison Planning Division Director Brad Murphy to members of the Urban Design Commission, a provision of a Madison zoning code requires the Landmarks Commission to review any development on property adjacent to a landmark.

The committee also must determine if the proposed development negatively affects the historic character of the landmark, according to the zoning code.

The zoning code states the Landmark Commission must make advisory recommendations concerning the proposed development to both the Plan and Urban Design Commissions, insinuating that Landmarks must discuss the development before the other committees.

“Upon further review it was decided that Landmarks would have to discuss the plans first,” Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said.

In the email exchange with members of the commission, Ald. Marsha Rummel, District 6, expressed concern with the confusion over commission proceedings and order.

“I have been very frustrated by events over the past few days,” Rummel said in the email. “I am troubled when decisions about the process for land use approvals are conducted informally. I am troubled when the public is discouraged from attending noticed meetings because the applicant has been persuaded to refer and will not be attending.”

Rummel said in an earlier interview with The Badger Herald that Landmarks Commission hoped the Urban Design Committee would be able to suggest revisions, making the plans more attractive to Landmarks. According to Rummel, Landmarks would potentially deny demolition of two historical buildings outlined in the renovation plans without significant revisions and thus prevent the plans from continuing.

The renovation plans will next be discussed by the Landmarks Commission at its next meeting Feb. 27.

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