The City of Madison’s Plan Commission decided Thursday to change the zoning codes of specific University of Wisconsin properties.

The committee voted to convert several existing Planned Unit Developments to the Campus Institutional district.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said zoning is the law that governs land use is in a community and the zoning code in Madison is extremely complex and over 45 years old.

“Madison has been working on rewriting our zoning code, and one piece of that has been the downtown plan,” Verveer said. “In July, the City Council approved the downtown plan and now that it’s been adopted, we can finalize our new zoning code for the entire city.”

A letter from Gary Brown, director of the Office of Planning and Landscape Architecture, to Rick Roll, senior planner for Madison’s Department of Planning and Community and Economic Development, said the PUDs have been developed for buildings on the UW campus for several decades.

Planning Division Director Brad Murphy said applying a Campus Institutional district to campus would require rezoning the property under the old code to a new code. Switching to a CI district is preferable for most of campus, he said.

Verveer said a PUD is specialized zoning for a specific use and brings along with it many specific conditions, and if anything gets re-zoned to CI, there are no special conditions. He said the benefit of converting buildings to CI is simplicity because much of the campus is currently zoned as residential property.

At the meeting, the body decided to convert all the previous PUDs downtown into CIs with the exception of the Wisconsin Energy Institute and the Lot 76 Parking Ramp on University Bay Drive. Some buildings that will be converted to CIs include Gordon Commons, Ogg Hall, Memorial Library and Library Mall.

Ald. Marsha Rummel, District 6, said they are not converting the two buildings because the commission has concerns regarding the special conditions of their zoning.

The buildings that got converted to the CI district will be called for preparation of the master plan prepared by the university and adopted by the city. It will be reviewed by the Plan Commission and Common Council, Murphy said.

“There will be oversights of new developments in the master plan,” Murphy said. “We’ve said the area north of Campus Drive and University Avenue probably would be an area we care less about in terms of architecture and design.”

He added the commission should carefully consider what happens to Old University Avenue.

Verveer said university officials are interested in the city’s new zoning code because it will cover their future building plans. He said the university wants to institutionalize private property they do not currently own and expand the boundaries of campus.

He added the university would like to purchase off-campus student housing on the campus border when they are financially able to do so and expand its boundaries. He said a planning staff memo stated it is unknown when the university will be able to purchase all the new properties.

The Plan Commission hopes to take action on the zoning laws Oct.1, and City Council is scheduled to take action Oct. 16, Verveer said.

We're hiring! Check out our jobs page. Applications due April 27th. badgerherald.com/about/get-involved/hiring.