With the recent passage of the fourth of five Modules, the final scenes in Chicago’s historic rewrite of its 45-year-old zoning code are playing out at City Hall.
On Sept. 25, 2003, the
Zoning Committee held a hearing on the fourth of five modules that constitute
the new ordinance. Module 4 introduces
draft regulations for parking and loading, landscaping and screening, and
signage. The Committee's key recommendations include:
Parking. Raise the ratio of one parking space
per single family house to two parking spaces, and require 1.5 spaces per
unit for multi-unit buildings (i.e., a two-flat would have three parking
Landscaping and Screening. Include regulations that specifically apply
to car washes and gas stations.
Signage. For signs on
buildings, limit size to 3 square feet in neighborhoods and 5 square feet for
higher-intensity uses in non-residential areas (e.g., auto sales and manufacturing
zones). For freestanding
signs, the suggested maximum height is 25 feet. Flashing and video
display signs should be limited in size to 25 percent of maximum allowable area
and be banned where they will be a distraction to drivers or affect the
character of historic, lakefront, and residential areas.
MPC supports the Zoning Committee's
recommendation limiting the sizes of signs.
At the hearing, the Metropolitan Planning Council testified in support of
the Commission’s recommendations that parking ratios be raised where on-site open
space would not be affected. MPC testified that a one space per unit ratio should be
maintained where additional parking would encroach upon open space. This recommendation is consistent with MPC’s
research in Chicago neighborhoods.
MPC also supported the Commission’s call for shared parking
arrangements, minimum bicycle parking standards and additional landscape standards
for gas stations and car washes.
MPC suggested one major change to Module 4:
high-rise rooftop signs be banned in the Central Area, with the exception of hotels
and hospitals, and signs for other uses be limited in height to 25 feet. For MPC's complete testimony on Module 4, click here
All modules are held
in the Zoning Committee until the fifth and final module is complete. At that time, the committee will
transmit the ordinance in its entirety to the City Council for its consideration
and approval. Three modules have
been approved by the Mayor’s Zoning Reform Commission and passed on to the
Module 1 pertained to residential districts and park/open
Module 2 covered
business/commercial, manufacturing, transportation, planned manufacturing, and
overlay districts; and
Module 3 addressed
planned developments, review and approval procedures, nonconforming buildings
and lots, and enforcement and penalties.
The Mayor’s Zoning Reform Commission is currently considering Module
5, which introduces specific zoning requirements for the downtown area.
For more information on these Modules, click here. For more information about MPC’s
testimony contact Heather Campbell or Peter