Madison, WI, Code of Ordinances

Updated March 2023

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Table of Contents

Accessory Dwelling Units

This city’s code provides standards for accessory dwelling units based on zoning district. It includes standards for ADUs in the traditional residential planned district, other districts, and for ADUs in a TOD overlay district.

Creative Placemaking

The city’s board, commissions, and committees code establishes an arts commission that funds artistic activities, supports cultural programs, and encourages creative placemaking. The commission is responsible for engaging artists and creative workers on civic initiatives, supports municipal programs related to arts and cultural activities, and makes recommendations regarding grant awards from a Municipal Arts Fund (§33.35).

Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

This city’s code of ordinances includes electric vehicle charging infrastructure in its parking and loading standards. It requires new or expanded parking facilities to have EV ready spaces and EV installed spaces (28.141(8)(e)). The number of required EV spaces increases incrementally based on the year of the facility development.

Outdoor Lighting

The city's codified ordinances address outdoor lighting in the streets and sidewalks chapter (§10.085). It seeks to balance the prevention of light trespass and conservation of energy with night time safety.

The code provides definitions and provides general requirements for all outdoor lighting fixtures that address maximum allowable light trespass, fixtures, and lamp types. It provides specific design requirements for parking facilities and outdoor merchandising areas, and describes approval and administrative procedures.

Rethinking Off-Street Parking Requirements

The city’s zoning code includes multiple types of policy-driven off-street parking requirements. It exempts all uses in multiple zoning districts from off-street parking requirements (§28.141(3)). It establishes maximum parking requirements for all uses (§28.141(4)). And it authorizes parking reductions for shared parking facilities, access to shared vehicles, transit proximity, off-site parking, moped parking, and bicycle parking (§28.141(5)).

Solar Energy

The city's subdivision code requires solar-oriented streets (§16.23(8)(a)2.e) and lots (§16.23(8)(d)1).

The city's zoning code permits accessory solar energy systems by right in all zoning districts, subject to administrative approval of a placement plan (§28.151.Solar Energy Systems.(a)(b)).

The zoning code also permits solar systems to encroach on front, rear, and side setbacks (Table 28I-1).

Food Systems | Urban Agriculture

The city's zoning ordinance addresses urban agriculture. It permits community gardens in all zoning districts and establishes market gardens as a conditional use in all residential zoning districts (Table 28C-1), mixed use and commercial districts (Table 28D-2), and employment districts (Table 28-F1); both uses are permitted in agricultural and urban agricultural districts (Table 28G-1).

The zoning ordinance establishes an urban agriculture district as a special district, with development standards provided (§28.093).

Supplemental regulations are provided for agricultural animal husbandry and cultivation uses, as well as market garden and on-site agricultural retail stand/farm stand (§28.151). Definitions for these uses are also provided in the code's definitions section (§28.211).

Zoning Reform and Code Writing

The city's zoning code includes a mix of use-based and form-based zoning standards (Chapter 28). It defines and regulates uses based on broad categories, with select specific use types, and includes use-specific standards to minimize reliance on discretionary use permits. And it establishes permissible building forms for different zoning districts. It is richly illustrated and uses tables to organize use permissions and dimensional standards.

Its purpose statements address promoting land uses and development patterns consistent with adopted plans; promoting and protecting public health, safety, and general welfare; securing safety from fire, flooding, pollution, contamination, and other dangers; maintaining and promoting safe pedestrian and vehicular circulation; minimizing traffic congestion; ensuring the provision of adequate open space; protecting environmentally sensitive areas; addressing and mitigating the effects of climate change; removing obstacles and providing incentives for energy conservation and renewable energy; protecting historic resources; facilitating the provision of adequate public facilities; preserving scenic beauty and to enhancing aesthetics; encouraging reinvestment in established urban neighborhoods; protecting and enhancing property values; preserving productive agricultural land and providing opportunities for local food production; encouraging innovative project design; encouraging the creation, promotion, sale, and enjoyment of art; creating a sense of place; encouraging pedestrian-oriented development; promoting orderly development and economic vitality; providing an adequate variety of housing and commercial building types (§28.002).

Madison, WI

2010 Population: 233,209

2010 Population Density: 3,037.01/square mile