Many Madison residents spoke passionately both in favor and against the amending the city’s zoning code, which would allow the tiny houses to be built at the proposed location on the 2000 block of East Johnson St. Ultimately, the city Plan Commission voted to approve the new amendment.
Ald. Larry Palm, District 12, said he supports the proposed zoning amendment for the project. He said the Madison Fire Department has been working closely with the project’s development team to ensure the zoning codes meet the standards of city planning and development guidelines.
Some registered speakers who live nearby the proposed location for the Tiny Houses voiced concerns about the project’s potential impact on several fronts, including the homes’ possible effects on density and building spacing, property value and local businesses.
However, other speakers said the proposed location of Tiny Houses, which would replace Sanchez Motors, was an opportunity to create a sustainable and equitable community between residents and their less fortunate neighbors.
Palm said although residents have legitimate concerns about the proposed location of the Tiny Houses, he said finding a home for the homeless has been an ongoing, pressing issue in Madison and Dane County.
“As we move forward the challenge of Madison and the Plan Commission and residents is pushing through the idea we love them but we cannot have them here,” he said.
Palm also said the initial proposal for the project included upwards of 15 tiny houses for homeless residents to live in in the given neighborhood. He said the project’s development team later realized there was only a limited amount of space for these houses to be built, so city officials motioned for nine homes, taking up 99 square feet each, to be built in the lot.
Ald. Steve King, District 7, said the city still needs to figure out a way to make the homeless issue work in a residential context. He said he would rather see this effort be made on a smaller scale with less tiny homes, rather than a larger one, which could have more devastating effects if the project were to fail in some way.
“The right answer is to reintegrate this into structure we have not to separate it from residential,” King said. “We need to figure out how to make that work.”
Both Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, and Ald. Ledell Zellers, District 2, said they were also in favor of this motion being passed during the Plan Commission meeting.
The approval of the amendment to the zoning code will now go to City Council for discussion May 6.