By Nick Nunn staff writer

The Downtown Development Authority of Madison (DDA) recommended the approval of an amendment to their Urban Renewal Plan (URP) during their March 20 meeting.

The proposed amendment would change the URP, which maps out the West Washington Street Gateway, to accommodate the development of a high-density residential development on Fifth Street. This is the first amendment to the URP since its adoption in 2011.

According to Madison Planning Director Monica Callahan the URP map and text together control future development in the West Washington Gateway. The amendment to the URP allows for the “development of residential units having an historic multi-family appearance” on Fifth Street, opposite Sandy Sanford’s “Anchorage” development.

The changes in the URP would also create the requirement of a shared driveway with an accessory parking lot to be constructed behind one existing and two planned cottages along Highway 83 and recommend the “development of stormwater, greenspace, or trail amenities” on the property northeast of the proposed housing development.

Monica Callahan stated that, in order for the URP to be amended, the Madison city council will have to hold a public hearing on the subject and then create a resolution to pass the amendment.

Callahan also informed the DDA about the Greenspace Commission’s recent work on a draft of a Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) ordinance, which will be submitted to the Madison city council for consideration during their April 14 meeting. The proposed TDR ordinance would be “test driven” in the West Washington Gateway, said Callahan, who said that the ordinance could have “great implications to the city as a whole.

The TDR ordinance would allow property owners in designated “sending” areas to sever the development rights attached to their property and then sell the rights to property owners in “receiving” areas.

Once the development rights are sold, the seller must create a permanent conservation easement on their property to ensure that no development will take place on the portion of the property. Sending and receiving areas are chosen based on the desire to prevent designated areas from development, while allowing controlled growth in other areas covered by the ordinance.

Callahan said that deciding to sell or purchase a property’s development rights are “elective” and that the development rights become a “real estate commodity” for the property owner.

Callahan also stated that the DDA will be able to use the ordinance to further its objectives, since the ordinance will designate parcels in the West Washington Gateway and surrounding area as the sending and receiving areas. “It has some really good potential,” said Callahan.