The provisions of the Zoning Code zone each parcel of land in the City of Madison. Each zoning district has rules for the use of land and buildings. The districts also specify spatial relationships in that district. Some of these relationships include building height, setbacks and open space. These rules exist to preserve the basic health, safety and welfare of the general public. The rules also encourage the existence of complementary uses throughout the City. For more information, please see MGO Sec. 28.184.

If an owner wants to use their property in a way that is not allowed by the current zoning district, they may request a change to a zoning district that would permit their proposed use. This process is referred to as a zoning map amendment, or a rezoning. To rezone, the Plan Commission must make a recommendation to the Common Council. The Council must then adopt an ordinance. In general, the rezoning must follow adopted City plans.

In special cases, unique developments are proposed that do not fit into the conventional zoning districts. For these projects, the property may be rezoned to a Planned Development (PD) district. PDs are site-specific zoning solutions. PDs typically have no predetermined requirements for land use, lot area lot width, building height, floor area ratio, useable open space, or off-street parking. These items are part of an approved and recorded development plan as agreed upon by the owner and the City. For more information on PDs, please see MGO Sec. 28.091.

Process Overview

  1. Discuss with City Zoning & Planning

    Applicants for any project must first meet with Zoning and Planning staff before submitting their application. 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 and Zoning (608) 266-4551 to schedule an appointment to discuss your project. At the meeting, we will discuss your project proposal. Please bring with you any plans or surveys of the site.

    Find out the zoning for your property.

  2. Notify Alder, Neighborhood Association, and Business Association

    The applicant is strongly encouraged to discuss their proposal with the district alder, neighborhood association, and nearby property owners prior to submitting their application.

    Regardless, the applicant or their agent is required to notify - via e-mail or US Mail - any of the following parties (who serve the subject site(s)), at least 30 days prior to filing their application. 

    1. The alderperson (click here for a map of alder districts),
    2. Any City-registered neighborhood association(s), and
    3. Any City-listed business association(s)

    Please note: 

    • This notice must clearly state that the applicant is “intending to file an application for a Zoning Map Amendment/Rezoning" (and conditional use, demolition permit, etc., if applicable), it must state the date the applicant intends to submit (for a list of submittal dates, please refer to the Development Review Schedule), and specify the project address. If this notice requirement is not met, an application will not be accepted. Notices may also include other information such as contact information, timelines, or descriptions of the proposal.
    • The alderperson and the Director of Planning & Community & Economic Development may waive or reduce the 30-day notification requirement. A copy of the pre-application notification letters or any correspondence granting a waiver or reduction of the 30 days is required to be submitted as part of the application materials
  3. Submit Application



    Review the current Development Review Schedule for the Urban Design Commission (UDC) and Plan Commission. The two columns on the left contain the submittal dates, which vary depending on the request(s). The middle three columns are the corresponding Urban Design Commission, Plan Commission, and Common Council meetings. (Read across the row from the submittal date). Deadlines occur on designated Mondays at 12:00 p.m., unless otherwise noted.

    Where to Go

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

    What to Include
    • PDF Copies of the following, emailed to
      • A completed Land Use Application form [check the applicable “Rezoning” box(es)].
      • The notification to the district alderperson, and the neighborhood association(s), business association(s), if applicable. If a waiver from or reduction of the 30 days has been granted by the alder, please also include a copy of the correspondence.
      • A legal description of the property prepared by a licensed surveyor, engineer or title company. You must submit the description in MS Word format as part of an email attachment. Use the email address located on the last page of the application form.
      • A letter of intent that outlines the nature of the requested zoning map amendment. It must provide details about the project requiring the rezoning.
      • Any required supplemental submittal materials as noted on pages 3 & 4 of the Land Use Application Checklist
      • The review fee (see Page 6 of the Land Use Application for the fee amount, see below for more information on how to submit the fee)
      • Specific site plans as required by staff. Plans need to be legible and scaled (typically reduced to 11″ x 17")
      • If also requiring Urban Design Commission (UDC) Review, digital copies of the following, sent also to       
        • The Completed UDC Application Form,
        • Letter of Intent (if different than that submitted above),
        • Legible and scaled plans (if different that those submitted above) (typically reduced to 11" x 17") 
    • Please note that an individual email cannot exceed 20 MB. It is the responsibility of the applicant to present files in a manner that can be accepted. If dividing the submittal materials into multiple, smaller components (in order to meet the email size limit), please clearly indicate the total number of email components in the subject line (e.g.: “Land Use Application for 123 Elm Street - email 1 of 4”, “…2 of 4”, etc.) and label the email attachments accordingly (e.g.: “Site Plan 1 of 3”, “…2 of 3”, etc.). Please email regarding questions on this submittal or alternative filing options.


    • The Review Fee ( for the amount, see Page 6 of the Land Use Application
      • The fee can be mailed in, dropped in the drop box at the Madison Municipal Building, or you can make an appointment at the Zoning counter to pay the fee. Checks should be made out to “City Treasurer.” If you mail in the check or use the drop box, please include a cover page which includes the project address, brief description of the project, and contact information. Zoning staff typically suggest using the drop box or making an appointment with the Zoning counter to pay the fee as they are the quickest.


    Zoning staff will review the application in the days following the submittal for completeness. If complete, Zoning will forward the application will on.

  4. Post-Submission Design Changes

    Please note that subsequent revisions to submittal materials will likely result in rescheduling of public hearings (i.e. being deferred to a later review cycle).

  5. Notices and Public Hearings

    Public hearings will be scheduled once we have accepted the application for review. The required public hearings are through the Plan Commission and Common Council. We will notify property owners and occupants within 200 feet of the property of the application and the hearing dates. We also run the request is the City's official newspaper. We also provide a sign for you to post on the property. We will inform you of the time and place of the public hearing by letter.

    The review process for zoning map amendments is approximately 10 to 12 weeks. It starts from the date we receive the application to the scheduled action by the Common Council.

    In rezonings that involve Planned Unit Developments, you must get a recommendation on the design of the project from the Urban Design Commission (UDC) (see UDC application and submittal requirements noted above).  Afterwards, the Plan Commission and Common Council can review.

  6. Plan Revision and Resubmission

    After approval is granted, the applicant is responsible for satisfying the various conditions of approval, as contained in the Disposition Letter. If the applicant should have specific questions about a condition, they should contact the particular agency that submitted the condition.

    The applicant shall then resubmit a PDF copy of the plan set and any other supporting materials that are necessary, as specified in the Disposition Letter to (Note: The 20MB email limit still applies)

    A check for the site plan review fee should be mailed to the Building Inspection address noted above. (Please refer to Page 6 of the Land Use Application Form for information on fees).

    City Agencies who submitted conditions of approval during the initial plan will review the revised plans to verify that their conditions, along with any applicable requirements, have been satisfied. When the revised plans are submitted, the applicant will be emailed a hyperlink to a website to follow, in real time, which agencies have reviewed the revised documents, and signed off or need additional information.

  7. Final Approval

    Once all City Agencies have signed off, Zoning Staff will issue final approval and the applicant may then pull any other necessary permits. Note: separate building, sign, or demolition permits issued by the Building Inspection Division will be required before work on the project can commence. Questions on this matter should be directed to the Building Inspection Division, (608) 266-4551.

Related Forms & Handouts