By Nick Nunn staff writer

The Madison City Council discussed the creation of a Business Development Committee for the city of Madison during their May 30 work session. The council is expected to create the seven-member advisory committee, whose purpose is to assist both the city’s staff and business owners by “facilitating a smooth process to help each business become an integral part of the business community,” during their June 9 regular meeting. The policy for the Business Development Committee (BDC) states that it will aid the development of both new businesses and business expansions by providing guidance related to location selection, business planning, and signage and zoning issues.

The BDC would be able to suggest actions for business applicants, while helping them to work with “state, county, and city agencies.” Approaching the BDC for advice and guidance would not be compulsory for potential business owners. Council Member Joe DiLetto, who gave the initial impetus for this committee, stated that he liked the draft of the policy for the BDC but indicated that he would like to see a “trigger” mechanism built in, so that potential business applicants would be notified that the BDC exists for their benefit.

“It’s up for us to help them,” said DiLetto. “I would like these people to know that there is an opportunity.” He added that having the experience and different viewpoints of seven committee members, who would be drawn from members of local business, local industry, the city council, city staff, and Madison citizens, would ultimately be an asset to those considering beginning or expanding a business in Madison.

Council Member Rick Blanton agreed that the BDC would give an applicant additional “insight” into the business creation process but expressed concerns with putting council members or the mayor on the board, stating that the board could easily create a conflict of interest for council members, should business applicants require zoning actions or other issues that would be voted on by the city council.

City Attorney Joe Reitman said that council members appointed to the committee would be able to recuse themselves from any BDC issues that could potentially lead to conflicts or “adversarial situations,” thus allowing them to remain on the board. Council Member Chris Hodges said that the BDC would be a “good start” toward assisting business owners by going beyond the “laws and the books,” which is the “purview” of the staff. Cindy Wiemann, Madison Animal Control Officer, introduced an updated Animal Control Disaster Plan to the council. She stated that, according to federal regulations, the plan must be updated every four years and that this update is the regular four-year update. Wiemann said that the main changes include updated lists of local hotels that allow pets, kennels for boarding animals, pet food suppliers, possible shelter locations, and an estimate of the number of animals in the area.