A sweeping new land use plan for the city's north side will proceed without mentioning a possible redesign of Sherman Avenue into a more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly thoroughfare.

The Madison Plan Commission Monday night approved the Northport-Warner Park-Sherman Neighborhood Plan but did not confront the most controversial piece of it.

Bicycle advocates have long envisioned turning four-lane Sherman Avenue into a two-lane road with dedicated bike lanes. One option discussed is a two-lane road with left turn lanes, know in planning parlance as a "TWLTL."

Several commission members proposed including that language in the plan to help slow traffic on the busy thoroughfare and make it safer for non-motorists.

But Northside Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway urged the commission not to mention "TWLTL" in the final document. She said it was the most divisive issue in the entire area and would jeopardize what otherwise was a good plan

"Please, don't do this to me," she said of the last-second amendment.

The plan is meant to guide development over the next decades and is a supplement to the city's long-range Comprehensive Plan. It calls for improvements to the two main shopping centers on Sherman Avenue, upgrades to Warner Park and more business opportunities.

Fellow north side Ald. Michael Schumacher, who serves on the Plan Commission, had vowed to vote against the entire plan if bike lanes were included when it heads to the City Council for final action next month.

"It's the most divisive, hot-button issue in the neighborhood," he said. "You're only adding fuel to the fire."

Commission member Michael Basford had urged for the inclusion of the TWLTL option, saying it would improve the neighborhood where he lives. By leaving it out, he said, Sherman Avenue will remain a place where cars routinely violate the 30 mph speed limit.

"By doing nothing we are in fact doing something," he said.

Rhodes-Conway said it would only inflame those who strongly oppose any changes to the route used by commuters as well as residents.

"You can't force citizens to accept solutions," she said.

Other than the bike lanes issue, the plan was generally well-received. It was crafted over 18 months of meeting with city staff, business leaders and neighborhood groups.

Also Monday night the commission:

  • Delayed action on a noise and parking complaint against the Plan B nightclub at 924 Williamson St.
  • Approved plans from UW-Madison for a new three-story, 55,000 square foot building at 30 N. Mills St. to house physical plant shops and offices.
  • Placed on file, effectively killing, a plan to move a two-unit building from South Thornton Avenue to 1148 Jenifer St. to facilitate a larger project on Jenifer Street and Cantwell Court by developer Navin Jaragumilli. The project has been stalled, angering many neighbors.

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