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Goodman Update Sept 4-2019

We would like to share an update as to events that occurred yesterday, Monday, September 3rd.  Council President, Shiva Bidar, moved to delay Edgewood’s ordinance to terminate its Master Plan, without notice or explanation to the school.  We view this as further evidence that the City of Madison is actively working against Edgewood – the City’s oldest and only Catholic high school. 

To refresh your memory, there are two ordinances at issue here.  One would allow Edgewood to terminate the master plan that it voluntarily adopted in 2014.  Terminating Edgewood’s Master Plan is intended to, in the words of the City Attorney, place Edgewood on “equal footing” with the City’s public high schools that share the same zoning classification and the same land use rights – including the right to play interscholastic high school games on their on-campus athletic fields. 

The other ordinance, sponsored by Alder Tag Evers and the Council President, was introduced with haste in order to ensure that if Edgewood’s Master Plan is terminated, there would be an ordinance in place to create additional hurdles and obstacles for any change, improvement, development, or modification on Edgewood’s campus. 

Both ordinances were reviewed by the Plan Commission on August 26th.   At a meeting that extended well past midnight, which many of the Edgewood faithful attended, the Plan Commission did not make a recommendation on either ordinance, but rather referred both ordinances to the next Plan Commission meeting on September 16th, allowing City Staff time to make clarifications to Alder Evers’ ordinance before a recommendation is made.   

As we understand is customary at regularly scheduled Common Council meetings, the Council is supposed to make note of the plan commission referrals through its consent agenda, without discussion on the item.   However, Edgewood learned late yesterday that Council President Bidar removed Edgewood’s ordinance from the consent agenda in order to delay it until the October 14th Plan Commission meeting.  This action provides a direct path for Alder Evers ordinance to be put into law before any action or vote would be taken on Edgewood’s request to terminate its Master Plan. There was no advance notice or explanation given to Edgewood on this action.  Edgewood and its attorneys were present at the meeting last night and spoke in opposition to the postponement, yet the City’s Common Council voted to approve the motion to delay Edgewood’s ordinance.

By allowing a vote on Alder Evers’ ordinance before allowing a vote on the termination of Edgewood’s Master Plan, the City is confirming that it believes that Edgewood should not in fact be placed on equal footing with the City’s non-religious high schools, and should instead be required to jump through additional hoops to do what the City’s public schools have done by right under the same zoning district since it was created. 

This is not placing Edgewood on equal footing, and it is not ensuring fairness in the application of the City’s zoning laws. These actions continue to frustrate us and strengthen our belief that a RLUIPA lawsuit against the City is warranted and the right thing to do.

Mike Elliott