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Friday, June 24, 2022

Plans for a proposed parking lot that would accompany a new Amazon distribution facility in East Madison came under fire by community members who cited environmental repercussions if the lot were built. 

Community members fight back against proposed Amazon parking lot plan

Members of a local water advocacy group voiced their concerns to the Madison City Plan Commission Monday about a proposed parking lot intended for a new Amazon distribution center on the city’s East side. 

The parking lot would be located at 3630 Milwaukee St., adjacent to where the Amazon facility is planned to be. Developers still need approval for the lot and an accompanying stormwater management facility. 

The proposed parking lot sits next to Starkweather Creek, and the construction would damage the park’s wetlands and accentuate pre-existing flood issues, according to John Steines, a member of the environmental group Friends of Starkweather Creek.

“[The wetlands are] not designed to deal with parking runoff. They have a natural function,” Steines said.

At the City Plan Commission meeting, fellow Friends of Starkweather Creek member Carl Landsness said the organization strongly opposed the plan and suggested further collective action would occur if it were to pass.

“If [the plan] gets pushed’re going to see an adversary and recruiting of other adversaries like you haven’t seen before,” Landsness said. 

According to Ald. Grant Foster’s, District 15, blog, the City Plan Commission voted last year to demolish part of the Swiss Colony Distribution center to build the new Amazon facility. However, the commission held off its decision regarding the parking lot. 

Constituents, and Foster, did not receive advanced notice that the proposal was being revisited Monday because plans for the demolition had already passed. This created confusion and surprised some community members.

“I didn’t learn about any of this until a friend tells me at 5 o’clock,” Landsness said.

Foster recommended the committee deny the request, and said in his blog that developers could resubmit a plan to the committee that did not include the original parcels of land used. 

The demolition and construction will continue for the Amazon distribution center at the adjacent lot, however.

While the amount of jobs generated from the new facility remains unknown, a report released by the city’s planning division projected the parking lot would include 500 stalls for delivery vans and 200 for employees.  

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The commission ultimately voted 6 to 2 to deny the parking lot proposal. 

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