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03/01/2023 08:00 AM

In Need of a Major Overhaul

After witnessing four Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) meetings to discuss a proposed restaurant at the Winter Club property, it seems clear that our PZC is out of sync with the public’s wishes and in need of a major overhaul. Despite overwhelmingly strong opposition at the first meeting to a Planned Development District (PDD) that was surreptitiously slipped in with the restaurant proposal, PZC continued to come back for three more meetings with rehashed versions of a PDD, which were all adamantly objected to by the public. The objections were not to the restaurant but to how the Commission used the restaurant as an opportunity to push for a broad-based PDD.

Despite public outrage at each of these meetings, the Commission still approved the PDD, which will now make it easy for developers to design projects that don’t conform to zoning requirements and gives full authority to the Commission to approve projects without public input. The one PZC member who objected at the first meeting to having this much authority is no longer part of the Commission.

The decisions made by PZC are far too important to be left up to volunteers who may have the best of intentions but are too inexperienced to make them and may be influenced by the direction of the Town Planner. Citizens of Madison should be allowed to elect the Town Planner, and members of the Commission and the Commission should be accountable to the public. I sent an email about my concerns to the Board of Selectmen but only received a canned dismissive response.

The landscape of beautiful Madison is going to change in an unpopular way unless PZC is subject to greater scrutiny and is accountable to the people of Madison, and public comment is not purely for show.

Kristin Morris