The annexation process allows unincorporated township lands outside the corporate limits of the City of Madison to become part of the City. Annexation is required in most cases before a property can receive City services such as sanitary sewer and water and in many cases before a property can be subdivided and used for more intensive, urban forms of development.

Property owners interested in receiving City services and/or developing their property in the City should plan to annex their lands to the City well in advance of their requests for service and development proposals. In most cases, City service requests, subdivision proposals and land use applications cannot be submitted for consideration by the City until after the annexation process has been completed.

Note that in certain cases, the annexation process is referred to instead as an “attachment”, which is the term used to describe the addition of property to the City from townships with which the City has boundary agreements and cooperative plans. While the materials for an attachment are identical to those required for an annexation, there are slight variations in the process. Currently, the City has agreements with the towns of Burke, Blooming Grove, Middleton and Madison.

Process Overview

  1. Discuss with City Planning

    Schedule a meeting with the Planning Division staff to discuss the feasibility of annexing/attaching property to the City of Madison. (Note: Given that the Planning and Zoning offices are currently open to the public by appointment only and many staff are working remotely, these meetings are being done virtually, via videoconference.) Please call Planning at (608) 266-4635 to schedule an appointment to discuss your project.


    Required Materials
    • An accurate description of the subject property prepared by a registered land surveyor that includes the legal description of the lands proposed to be added to the City and a scale map depicting the same.
    • A petition stating the intent of the property owner(s) to annex/attach to the City. The petition shall also include the population of the lands to be added to the City and the presence of any buildings on that site.

    In most cases, City staff will share a draft of these materials with staff from other agencies to get their feedback prior to the property owner(s) proceeding further. This review allows the City to ensure that the annexation/attachment materials are in acceptable form and allows various City departments to offer preliminary comments to the property owner before proceeding with their formal petition.

    Where to Go

    Online (Staff are currently only accepting digital (PDF) submittals - not paper)

  2. File Annexation Petition

    After City staff has reviewed your preliminary annexation petition, legal description and map and recommended that you proceed, the property owner is required to initiate and carry through the formal process of circulating and filing the annexation petition as prescribed in Sec. 66.0217 of Wisconsin State Statutes. While it is not mandatory, staff recommends that you seek the advice of an attorney in the preparation and filing of your annexation/attachment petition.

  3. Plan Commission and Common Council Review

    The Common Council must adopt an ordinance by a two-thirds vote following a recommendation by the Plan Commission in order for the requested lands to be annexed to the City.

    Note that for attachments of lands from towns with which the City has boundary agreements as discussed above, review by the Plan Commission is not required prior to the Council adoption of the ordinance adding lands to the City.

  4. Obtain Permanent Zoning

    All property annexed to the City of Madison is given a “temporary” zoning district (often A-Agriculture) until otherwise changed by a zoning map amendment (also known as a rezoning). Prior to the issuance of any permits for new construction on the annexed lands, a permanent zoning district classification must be obtained following the Rezoning Your Property process (see MGO Sec. 28.182).

    Following the annexation/attachment, please contact Planning Division staff to discuss the process for obtaining permanent zoning.