In the wake of the year-long debate over an expansion of the Edgewater Hotel, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has discussed stream-lining the development process. Neighborhood groups are up in arms, and concerned that they will lose their seat at the development approval table. I think that is extremely unlikely to happen, but there is a chance fewer developers will be scared off by the cities arduous approval process.
It's a good thing that Madison's neighborhood groups are so involved with the city, but I wonder if the groups are representative of the neighborhood populations they serve. My hunch is that the groups are dominated by the NIMBY types who are motivated and vocal in their opposition to development, while a silent majority in any given neighborhood is ambivalent or even supportive of denser and more urban in-fill development.
Some folks think that neighborhood groups and the anti-development types are what made this city great. I would argue that the city is great, in spite of those groups. I look at the sprawling campuses that Epic and American Family Insurance have built on the outskirts of town and can only wonder how much denser, walkable and greener this city would be if those companies had been plied to move their headquarters and their thousands of employees onto the isthmus.