Residential Zoning Code

Dane County

Madison, WI

Dane County conducted a year-long strategic planning process from 2022-2023 called the Dane County Regional Housing Strategy (RHS). The RHS was overseen by a group of 75 stakeholders including elected officials, 5 mayors, banks, residents, non-profit housing agencies, developers, 17 municipalities, and state agencies. Dane County is seeking a consultant to develop a Best Practices Residential Zoning Code to Help Solve the Housing Crisis in Dane County to fulfill one of the top action items identified in the Road Map to Solving the Dane County Housing Crisis: Strategic Action Plan 2024-2028.

When developing the Best Practices Residential Zoning Code to Help Solve the Housing Crisis in Dane County, the PROVIDER shall take into consideration the urgent goal of the RHS Housing Advisory Committee (HAC) to solve the housing crisis, as well as the six core values of the RHS plan: Accountability, Affordability, Economic Growth, Equity, Empowerment and Sustainable Development.

The report outlines the need for developing, at a minimum, an additional 2,000 housing units a year. That goal should include an additional 1,000 units of affordable housing a year, on top of what we are currently developing, and include missing middle housing of all types. The HAC also requested that we increase production of affordable single family housing to 250 units a year, from the current rate of 25 units a year, which is currently met through new development and acquisition rehabilitation.

In addition to the RHS HAC's goals, the PROVIDER shall consider that Dane County is the fastest growing county in the state, and the fastest new job creator in the state with 27% of all new jobs. The City of Madison is consistently ranked as one of the best cities to live in the United States, and the U.S. News for 2024 just ranked it 3rd in the nation. The PROPOSERS response should take into consideration that for the past five years running (2019-2023), we have permitted an average of 5,000 units a year. Dane County has under produced 11,000 housing units from 2010-2020, and has a shortfall of 13,300 housing units for households with incomes of 30% AMI or less.


The Dane County Regional Housing Strategy identified the creation of a zoning best practices guide that not only helps municipalities to reduce the cost of housing and development, but also allows for a wide variety of housing types, densities and locations, and helps to increase the supply of housing, as a top priority. Dane County is made up of municipalities of varying sizes from several hundred residents to 250,000 thousand residents, many of whom have extremely limited staff. This best practices guide should primarily offer recommendations for municipalities with a population of 50,000 or less. The intended user of the final guidebook is elected officials, local government staff, and residents.

Updating municipal zoning codes will help municipalities fulfill new loan requirements from our state housing agency, WHEDA, and access new housing loans. Here is a link, for more information.


The PROVIDER shall prepare a guide and matrix that includes:

  1. A checklist tool so that municipalities can identify and evaluate which of the code recommendations are best suited for their individual zoning code updates. One example to refer to is from the WI League of Municipalities, click here for more information.

The evaluation tool checklist shall include criteria that would let municipalities know the intended goal of implementation for each recommendation, including which of the recommendations will help to reduce housing costs, and/or increase housing supply. The checklist shall also include criteria that would indicate if the zoning code update would help to bring forward specific housing from the DEFINITION section below (missing middle, workforce, affordable, accessory dwelling units, small format housing, etc.).

Model Code Language.

The best practices guide shall include model residential zoning code language that will allow for a wide variety of housing types including single family, townhomes, multifamily (both small multi-family units, upto 10 units, and larger multi-family 21 units and up), and help to reduce the cost of housing and development, and increase the supply of housing units. A discussion of by right zoning vs. conditional use permitting shall be included in the RFP response and how that decision will impact/limit municipalities' ability to solve the housing crisis and bring forward more housing. The following shall be considered for inclusion in the guide:

  1. Lot sizes
  2. Floor area ratio
  3. Setback requirements
  4. Parking requirements
  5. Lot lines, including zero lot lines
  6. Street widths
  7. Alley ways
  8. Small format housing – 600 SF -1,000 SF
  9. Accessory dwelling units
  10. Number of housing units per lot
  11. Multi-family of a varying sizes
  12. Multi-family caps
  13. Height limits, define height definition
  14. Development by right vs. conditional use
  15. Infill development
  16. Cottage cluster
  17. Manufactured housing

Examples of zoning district updates that would allow for housing in districts other than residential shall be included. Recommended definitions for zoning codes shall also be considered, including:

  1. Missing middle housing – housing that includes all housing types such as single family, multi-family or varying sizes, attached town homes, condominiums, and small format housing.
  2. Small format housing – housing that is 600-1,000 square feet.
  3. Workforce housing – housing that is affordable to residents making 80%-120% of the area median income.
  4. Affordable Housing – housing that is affordable to residents making 30-60% or below area median income, primarily, but up to 80% area median income.
  5. Accessory dwelling units – An accessory dwelling unit may be attached or detached.
  6. Cottage cluster
  7. Manufactured housing

Examples of Best Practices in:

C. Permitting– Best practices for permitting affordable and workforce housing multi-family and single-family development that streamline the development timeline, help to reduce costs such as reduced permitting or impact fees or including a density bonus, and support the community and local government decision making process shall also be included. This includes third party pre-approval for zoning and permitting processes and examples for municipalities to consider. The selected PROVIDER shall include a sample checklist for developers, so the steps are clear and defined.

D. Presentation - A presentation to County stakeholders of the Best Practices Residential Zoning Code and Guide to Help Solve the Housing Crisis in Dane County


The project shall be complete within 12 weeks of fully executed agreement. First draft will be required six weeks after executed agreement. Final draft will be required within 12 weeks. Community presentation shall be completed within 3 weeks of final draft.

Request Type
Tuesday, July 2, 2024