A Look at Milwaukee’s Zoning Reform Proposal

The ‘Growing MKE’ plan calls for allowing ADUs, reducing barriers to new construction, and expanding the types of housing available in the city’s residential areas.

1 minute read

November 8, 2023, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Milwaukee, Wisconsin skyline with houses in foreground.

Henryk Sadura / Adobe Stock

A proposal dubbed ‘Growing MKE’ would expand the types of housing that can be built in Milwaukee and streamline the permitting process for residential development, reports Jeramey Jannene in Urban Milwaukee.

The proposal, created by the Department of City Development (DCD), anticipates that the city’s population will grow from roughly 600,000 to one million and follows other cities that are using zoning reform to stem the housing affordability crisis and improve mobility and sustainability.

As Jannene explains, “A key component of the plan calls for expanding the number and types of buildings that can be constructed without legislative approval, instead allowing code-conforming projects to advance through what is commonly called ‘by right’ development.” This would include accessory dwelling units (ADUs), duplexes and triplexes, and other higher-density buildings in certain corridors.

“Growing MKE does not call for any changes to the zoning map, which governs how individual parcels can be developed, but instead calls for modifying components of the zoning code that regulate how density limits are calculated and what requires discretionary approvals,” Jannene adds. The proposal calls for other changes such as eliminating parking minimums along transit routes and limiting the need for hearings when approved projects make “minor modifications.” 

The plan will undergo review by the Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee and later go before the full council.

Monday, November 6, 2023 in Urban Milwaukee

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