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Conservation District Earns Unanimous Vote

On December 21 the Milwaukee Common Council voted unanimously to pass the East Village Neighborhood Conservation Overlay Zone. The zoning change will take effect April 15, 2005. The Conservation Overlay Zone has sparked considerable controversy in the East Village and Brady Street areas. A petition in opposition to the change was distributed, and there were conflicting opinions from the Department of City Development and the City Attorney concerning whether a three-quarter vote of the Common Council was required for approval. However, the unanimous vote made the point moot. Generally, opponents to the zoning change cited onerous design standards, excessive administrative costs, administrative time delays, and inability to redevelop small lots without combining lots. They also noted the existence of many marginal properties in the neighborhood that are not worth preserving and the belief that increasing market demand should be allowed to express itself without additional limitations. Proponents indicated that the conservation district will protect and strengthen the neighborhood’s unique character and promote compatible alterations or in-fill development. The new zoning ordinance will also provide clear guidelines for remodeling and new construction, and will prevent blight and deterioration. ~ The proposal passed by the Common Council included two exhibits drafted by the East Village Association, outlining a Neighborhood Plan and Development and Design Standards. These documents are reproduced here. A task still to be completed in this process is the creation of a neighborhood Advisory Council to review proposed variances to the Zone’s guidelines.
by Janice Christensen