The City of Chicago’s zoning ordinance regulates the size and types of structures that can be built and what use they can serve. The main types of zoning are Residential (R), Business (B), Commercial (C) and Manufacturing (M). The zoning ordinance assigns a zoning classification to each parcel in the City based upon the location and the general character of the area.
Alderman Arena has instituted a procedure that ensures all proposed zoning relief is reviewed and considered in a consistent and thorough manner. A copy of our zoning relief guidelines can be found here: 45th Ward Development Guidelines.
Alderman Arena also consults with his Ward Advisory Committee, an ad hoc group of neighborhood representatives, architects, urban planners, and business owners on placemaking projects and significant zoning change requests. The group is advisory and informs the Alderman’s ultimate decision on zoning and placemaking matters.
The three main types of zoning relief are:
Administrative adjustments allow minor modifications to code requirements imposed by a property’s zoning. Usually, this applies to setbacks, home additions and renovations and certain existing non-conforming uses.
When an administrative adjustment is requested, the City’s Department of Zoning and Land Use Planning requires that neighbors on both sides, as well as the Alderman, be notified by certified mail. The notice includes what changes are requested, including measurements of any setback reduction or floor area ratio increase, and what addition or change the adjustment will accommodate. The neighbors have fifteen days to respond to the City with any concerns or input.
Alderman Arena strongly encourages property owners requesting administrative adjustments to speak with their neighbors first and talk about their plans for their property. Provided the neighbors are comfortable with the change and feel confident that their property will not be negatively affected, adjustments are generally approved. If a neighbor or the Alderman objects, requests are generally denied.
Residents who are contacted about an administrative adjustment application for an adjacent property can contact our office with any concerns, and Alderman Arena will facilitate a discussion between neighbors, if need be, to reach a conclusion that is acceptable to everyone.
Zoning for a particular property or properties can be amended by council order. The order is introduced at a Council meeting or a meeting of the Committee on Zoning. The Committee reviews the proposed order, refers it to the City Office of Zoning and Land Use Planning for their recommendation then either passes or does not pass the ordinance based on City recommendation and Aldermanic support. If passed in Committee, the ordinance goes back to Council for passage, after which it is published and the City’s zoning map is amended.
Notice to property owners within 250 feet of any proposed zoning amendment is required by law. Notice is also posted at the property where the change has been requested. Alderman Arena often requires notice for public meetings on zoning requests to extend further than this requirement, either 500 or 1000 feet, depending on the scale of the proposed development.
Alderman Arena has established guidelines for requests for zoning amendments which requires potential developers to submit extensive documentation for a request to be considered. You can download our zoning & development guidelines here: 45th Ward Development Guidelines. Extensive input will be sought from community organizations prior to any zoning change, and Alderman Arena may also seek input from the 45th Ward Zoning Advisory Committee on changes which will significant impact the surrounding community.
Requests for a variance can be made for additional square footage or height for a building, setback reductions, parking reductions, drive throughs, certain types of businesses and allowing non-conforming uses. The Zoning Board of Appeals, a five person board appointed by the Mayor, hears all requests for variances. Any application for a variance requires public notice both at the address of the property and to property owners within 100 to 500 feet of the premises, depending on the type of variance requested. Alderman Arena treats variance requests the same as zoning amendments and requires community meetings for most requests. The Alderman will then either advocate for or against the proposal at the ZBA. The ZBA is not obligated to follow the Alderman’s recommendation and at times will approve applications in spite of community opposition.