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Edgewater bounces between city commissions

By Paul Snyder

Frustration over a lack of city action will greet the proposed Edgewater Hotel renovation when it arrives at the Madison Plan Commission for review on Monday.

“If I’m surprised about anything at this point,” said Alderman Michael Schumacher, a Plan Commission member, “it’s at what level we are incapable of making a decision.”

The city’s Urban Design Commission on Wednesday began its review of the Brookfield-based Hammes Co.’s revised plans for the estimated $93 million redevelopment project, and the discussion carried on into early Thursday morning.

Instead of giving the project initial approval, which is the traditional way of sending projects on to the Plan Commission, the Urban Design Commission moved the project on without making a decision.

Hammes representatives did not return calls for comment.

Although the Urban Design Commission is more concerned with the building’s exterior, the proposed public plaza and the landscaping features, the many issues swirling around the proposal  — such as project size and how it will blend with the surrounding neighborhood — prompted the commission to seek more input, said Alderwoman Marsha Rummel, a member of the Urban Design Commission.

“It’s an intricate web,” she said. “(The Plan Commission) has stuff to look at on their level that might better inform our decision, so we want them to report back to us with what they’re dealing with.”

The Urban Design Commission is expected to discuss the Edgewater again Feb. 17, at which point the commission could give initial or final approval.

“It could come down to a back and forth between us and the Urban Design Commission now,” said Eric Sundquist, a member of the Plan Commission.

After Monday’s meeting, the Plan Commission is scheduled to meet again Feb. 22.

The Common Council is tentatively scheduled to vote on the project Feb. 23, but Rummel said the lack of action to this point may postpone that review.

Given the project’s complexity, it makes sense for the two commissions to have simultaneous discussions, said Bill Fruhling, the city’s principal planner.

“It’s going to take more than one meeting to get all the questions answered for both commissions,” he said. “They recognize the fact that it’s going to take awhile to deal with everything, and they found a good way to manage it.”

But the lack of progress on a project that’s been under the city’s microscope for months proves, Schumacher said, that somebody has to do something.

“This noncommittal stance is not part of being part of a committee that makes decisions,” he said. “If you’re not going to make a decision, then stay at home and do something else.

“If they have issues, then say so. Give the developer the opportunity to say, ‘We can do that,’ or, ‘Here’s why we can’t do that.’”


  1. “If you’re not going to make a decision, then stay at home and do something else.”

    Thank you Michael Schumacher. You are possibly the only sane person in Madison government.

  2. Remember, this is the committee (UDC) that is often accused of mission creep. So, they view some of the issues that need to be reviewed as not being in their purview, but instead the purview of the Plan Commission. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

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