Zoning for bowling alley fails in Madison


MADISON — A zoning request that would have allowed Malco's Grandview Cinema to replace two theaters with nine-lane bowling alleys was denied unanimously by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

The city allowed a short public hearing on the matter, allocating three minutes for City Attorney Chelsea Brannan to state the city's stance against the zoning change and three minutes for Malco attorney Bill Featherstone to make his case in favor of the change.

Malco was seeking a zoning change from C-2 Commercial to C-5 Commercial, which city leaders insist is necessary to allow a bowling venue of any size.

Featherstone argued that Malco should not have had to seek a re-zoning of its property in order to facilitate the construction, but that it was warranted if no other avenue was available to make it a reality.

Although several board members stated their support of such a venue, they all agreed that rezoning the property with a C-5 (heavy commercial) designation would irresponsible because the property could end up being a used car lot or some other undesirable commercial venue in the future.

Following the denial of the rezoning request, Featherstone asked if Malco could get back on the agenda to request that the city allow the construction of the bowling venue under the current zoning designation, but said he was told such a variance would not be considered.

"We are disappointed that the leadership of the City of Madison has denied its citizens access to another avenue of entertainment Malco hoped to provide," Featherstone said. "We will continue to seek a resolution going forward."

Featherstone added that the theater business was already struggling to compete with online streaming services before most theaters were forced to shutter their businesses in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic last week. Malco's Grandview Theater will remain closed for at least the next two weeks in an effort to help stall the spread of the virus.

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