Plan Commission Updated on BRT, Comprehensive Plan

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Cameron Bren

MIDDLETON–The City of Middleton Plan Commission reviewed new developments in the planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system by Madison’s Metro transit which could tie into existing Middleton routes. The plan commission also reviewed the latest changes made to the draft document for the comprehensive plan, expected to be adopted by the council by the end of the year.

City Planner and Zoning Administrator Mark Opitz said the city has a long relationship with Metro Transit and he meets regularly with the staff. Opitz is working with Metro to position the city to benefit from the system as much as possible.

He noted Metro Transit is interested in routing an alternate number of BRT busses west on University Avenue to a currently undesignated place in Middleton. The planned route currently travels south on Midvale Boulevard before cutting west on Mineral Point Road to slightly west of West Towne Mall.

“That doesn't mean that we would have BRT service in terms of BRT stations however,” Opitz said, “because there is a significant investment in developing the stations and other enhancements that they make along the route.”

Opitz shared slides depicting Metro’s planned station design which he described looking similar to train stop with clear branding, a payment kiosk, bike parking, a roof structure with cover from the elements, seating and a display indicating the next bus arrival.

Opitz said Metro’s timeline continues planning and funding through 2022 with construction beginning in 2023 and service starting in 2024. Opitz noted Metro is applying for federal funding which could be available for Middleton.

The BRT bus route could potentially travel from West Towne Mall on the Beltline to downtown Middleton or west down University Avenue and loop around somewhere downtown, Optiz said. 

Plan Commission member Kurt Paulsen asked if Metro considering reorienting Middleton routes toward BRT stations. Paulsen said the Middleton bus routes could connect with the BRT line near Hilldale and at its western terminal near Mineral Point/High Point intersection.

Paulsen said he also supports seeking a grant or using TIF funding to develop BRT stations in Middleton. Director of Planning and Community Development Abby Attoun noted that the expenditure period for TID #5 runs until 2036. 

Attoun spoke about the latest changes to the draft document for the City of Middleton Comprehensive Plan 2020.

The document incorporates feedback provided by most committees and commissions which weighed in. Feedback from two more committees needs to be worked in, in addition to comments from Water Resources Management Commission members.

Based on feedback the document now provides more context for Regional Transit Authority with a call out box explaining what it is, why it is beneficial and if it is a good fit for Dane County.

Staff drafted the introduction section with short, medium, long term and ongoing goals. They also created a list of definitions at the end of the document to clarify any words that may not be common terms.

Attoun said the document now uses the term “Established Neighborhood” to describe already developed neighborhoods, targeted for preservation of urban neighborhood scale and character while providing a variety of housing options to meet the needs of a diverse population; building types could include single-family dwellings, accessory dwelling units, 2-3 family homes and single family attached townhomes/condos and small-scale multifamily by conditional use.

The term “Multifamily Residential” is used to describe a variety of multi-family residential units with more than eight dwelling units per acre and served by a public sanitary sewer service system.

Attoun said a housing yield analysis and jobs yield analysis are not yet completed for the document. She is also drafting the implementation section.

“The primary point to be made throughout the implementation section is this is not a regulatory document; instead these are the city's regulatory documents that will need to be modified in order to implement the comprehensive plan,” Attoun said.

She stated that planning staff intends to provide a completed draft and timeline for adoption at the Nov. 24 Plan Commission meeting so a public hearing can be scheduled.

Mayor Gurdip Brar requested a meeting with planning staff to review a number of edits and formatting changes. He pointed out some chapters are longer than others and said he would like to see an emphasis on flood mitigation.

Brar noted that Madison’s comprehensive plan combines the land use and transportation section and is only 16 pages while Middleton’s transportation plan is 30 pages. 

Paulsen said some sections are longer because they contain more maps and other graphics, which is good.

Attoun said rather than focus on the number of pages she asked that Brar pinpoint information that should be taken out of the section. She added that any substantive changes should be brought back to the respective committees which could delay approval of the plan.

District 7 alder Dan Ramsey said the document has been a long time coming and has a lot to catch up on. He noted the level of staff effort that has been devoted to developing the document and he said that he considers the document to be user-friendly as written.

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