No building within a two-mile radius of the state Capitol could be taller than the base of the Capitol dome under a measure being considered by Wisconsin lawmakers.
The plan by state Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, would expand a height restriction that's already in place within a one-mile radius of the state Capitol. Risser said that lawmakers passed that restriction in the late 1980s to preserve the view of one of the most architecturally beautiful buildings in the country. He said his plan shares the same goal.
"It's a building which is the heart of the state of Wisconsin and Madison. It is a highlight to the city skyline. It's an important symbol to the state," he said.
Risser said he's unaware of any planned developments that would be affected by the height restriction. While Risser is in the minority party in the state Legislature, Sen. Rick Gudex, R-Fond du Lac, said at a public hearing that Risser's bill deserves a serious look.
“You know, I could tell you that coming down East Washington (Avenue) as a young kid, coming to the Capitol for the first time, seeing that Capitol five miles out, was the most awesome sight that you ever wanted to see,” Gudex said. “Thousands and thousands of school kids come to the Capitol for the first time, and I'd hate to take that vision away from them.”
However, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce opposes the plan. Delora Newton, the chamber's executive vice president, said that with so many government buildings already downtown, it puts extra pressure on the remaining land in Madison.
“It puts additional pressure on the remaining parcels of land that can be developed that they are developed to their best and maximum use,” she said.
The plan would cover much more of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, but UW officials said they have no problem with it. Three UW buildings that are already above the height restriction would be grandfathered in.