One of my goals as an Alderman is to bring transparency and community input to zoning changes in our Ward.
Neighbors may not always agree on all zoning or development proposals, but we want everyone to have their say in the process, and to be informed of the reasoning behind all Ward office decisions.
Our office uses a community-driven zoning process. All requests for Aldermanic support of an amendment to the zoning map in the 40th Ward require a public comment process that includes at least one public meeting, as well as digital, viewable plans and drawings and an online feedback form.
We have been developing this process since coming into office on May 20th, 2019:
In general, our goal is to have public notice of aldermanic intent available within three weeks of the completion of a public meeting. However, decisions may be delayed or deferred in cases where the project proposal is adjusted based on public and aldermanic feedback.
No letters of aldermanic support or opposition will be issued prior to the completion of the public comment process, including the notice of aldermanic intent.
Please note that the above timeline constitutes ONLY the 40th Ward community-driven process. Zoning change requests can be submitted to the City of Chicago at any time by a property owner, and will be referred to the City Council’s Committee on Zoning. Aldermen cannot prevent requests from being submitted or amended in committee, but the Zoning Committee will usually defer a matter (preventing a final vote by City Council) until the local Alderman has submitted a notice of support or opposition.
Please see below for answers to some of our most frequently asked questions:
Every piece of property in the City of Chicago has a zoning designation (you can see them all on the City’s interactive Zoning Map). The zoning designation determines what the property can or can’t be used for.
In general, most properties in our Ward will be zoned for Residential, Business, or Commercial use. Each designation also comes with numerical codes that determine density, height restrictions, and other specific uses of the property. You can find a good summary of each zoning designation and its restrictions here: https://secondcityzoning.org/zones/
When a property owner wants to use a property for something that is not allowed under its current zoning, they need to apply with the City for a zoning change.
Zoning changes are usually filed with the City of Chicago by the property owner/developer (or, frequently, by a lawyer on the owner’s behalf).
Once a zoning change has been filed, it will be evaluated by the City’s Zoning Administrator. Assuming the request is legal and all requirements have been met, the ZA will then introduce the zoning change into City Council as legislation.
Aldermen have the power to introduce zoning changes directly, but the practice has become less common in recent years. Our office has not introduced any zoning changes directly, and has no immediate plans to do so.
Once a zoning change is introduced into City Council, it is up to the Aldermen and their Committee on Zoning and Landmarks to consider the request. The recommendations of the Zoning Administrator and the local Aldermen are both taken into consideration by the Committee on Zoning and Landmarks, as is any public feedback.
There are many reasons an owner might request a zoning change — everything from wanting to tear down and build something new to simply bringing a structure into compliance with its zoning so that permits for repairs can be issued.
We post zoning change requests on our website and arrange the public meetings to ensure thorough public feedback. Posting on the Ward website is not an indication of support, nor does it mean that the Alderman requested the zoning change.
It is up to owners/developers to make the case for any zoning changes they are proposing. Unless explicitly stated in the public notice, the Ward office does not have any role in designing or advocating for the requested zoning changes.
So far, the rate of zoning change proposals in the 40th Ward since the past election seems fairly consistent with previous years.
The public meeting process and multiple forms of notification are new as of May, when Ald. Vasquez was elected, so neighbors may be more aware of how many zoning changes are happening Ward-wide than before, but we’re not seeing a significant uptick in requests so far.
We currently meet every other Friday to evaluate pending zoning change requests. Announcements will go out the week after that meeting, so depending on when a public meeting happens, it could be anywhere from 1-3 weeks before any announcement of Aldermanic intent.
Every posted zoning change request has a link to a feedback form at the bottom. You can use that to submit comment.
We compile comments from online and from public meetings into a single document before evaluating — there is no distinction made between comments received at the meeting versus comments submitted online.
Very much so! We read every comment and discuss them as a team. We also take into consideration the total number of comments, the breakdown of support/oppose/other responses, the geographic distribution of comments, and any recurring/frequent concerns or supporting comments.
No. We want to get as much feedback as possible, and we want that feedback to be as thorough and honest as possible.
When there are recurring concerns (or positive comments!), we share the general themes with owners/developers, but we do not provide the names or any other information of commenters.