Chicago’s current zoning ordinance requires that all owners of properties within 250 feet of each lot line of a property applying for an amendment, and within 100 feet for variations must receive notification delivered in person or by certified mail, return receipt requested. MPC has three concerns about the current code. First, this method does not include renters. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 56.2 percent of Chicago residents are renters, so notification is missing a large and important group of community members. Second, if notification is delivered via certified mail or return receipt, the owner must sign the form or else it will not be delivered. This precludes many owners who are not home during mail delivery hours from receiving notification of variances or amendments near their properties. Finally, in 2001, MPC conducted focus groups in various Chicago neighborhoods and discovered that residents want more opportunities to participate in the development review process. Notification procedures can and should increase neighborhood involvement.
Suggested Changes to Notification for Variations
- Require rental property owners who receive notification to post the notification form near the mailboxes of their effected properties for a predetermined number of days prior to the hearing date.
- Change the mailing requirement to standard first class mail to be completed by a certain date. Require the applicant to show a receipt and signed affidavit to prove that the number of letters sent matches number of people within the area. The City or alderman could post proposed zoning changes on their Web sites.
- Alter the current posted sign format to increase size and legibility, along the lines of the following example.
Signs shall be at least 24” x 36,” lettering shall be at least 48 point font, and shall read as follows:
This land is being considered for a zoning change from _____ to _____. The proposed project will result in _____ of dwelling units, resulting in a building ____ feet tall and ____ square feet. A public hearing will be held on, ___ at ___ P.M. at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St., City Council Chambers, Chicago, IL 60602. For more information, contact the Zoning Administrator at (312) 744-3508.
For a full copy of MPC's recommendations and a table comparing the current zoning ordinance procedures to those proposed by the Mayor's Zoning Reform Commission, click here. For a copy of MPC's letter to the Mayor's Zoning Reform Commission concerning notification procedures, click here.