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Common Council may be showing common sense on Edgewater

By Joe Yovino

In a nation where more people vote for an American Idol than do an American president, it’s sometimes hard to find an abundance of common sense.

But some government officials in Madison seem to have found some sense in a story that hasn’t had any for awhile.

Madison Common Council Alderpersons Mark Clear and Bridget Maniaci will offer two amendments to the city’s zoning laws at the council’s semimonthly meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

Both amendments will be aimed at easing the approval process for redevelopment of the Edgewater Hotel (in nonreporter speak, that means giving the project a better chance at survival).

Two weeks ago, the Common Council gave Brookfield-based Hammes Co., the proposed developer of the Edgewater property, a reprieve by not voting on the project. Instead of rejecting the project, the council sent the proposal to the city’s Urban Design Commission and Plan Commission. After the two commissions review it, the council will reconsider at a meeting in late February.

Clear’s amendment would eliminate the city’s waterfront setback requirements for commercial projects, while Maniaci’s amendment would allow public money be used for construction, would allow condo space and, maybe most importantly for the project, would kill a 45-year-old prohibition against building on certain Wisconsin Avenue prime real estate.

The amendments may fail to gain approval, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. In the larger picture, it shows Madison government is willing to work with developers and compromise. Hammes Co. has made modifications, alterations and adaptations to its proposal, now it’s the Common Council’s turn.

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