Deputy Planning Commissioner Sam Assefa outlines the City's plans for zoning remapping, expected to occur over the next 12 to 16 months.
the next 12 to 16 months, five priority zoning remapping issues will be
by Chicago’s Department
of Planning and Development. Nearly four months since the passage
Chicago’s new zoning
ordinance and less than a month and a half before it goes into full effect,
Deputy Commissioner Sam Assefa informed a capacity crowd of land use attorneys
and planners of the City’s intentions. Gathered together at the Standard Club of
Chicago, the audience was convened by the law firm of Shefsky and Froelich to
hear a presentation from their latest hire, former zoning administrator Ed Kus.
Mr. Assefa’s remarks were made as an introduction to the presentation.
The Metropolitan Planning Council has itself been working
in communities across the city to aid residents and aldermen with mapping
solutions as well. (Click here
for more information.)
The City’s approach will target priorities which can be mapped largely from City
Hall with input from aldermen.
First, the City will apply the new parks and open space
(POS) district to all existing parks, cemeteries, forest preserves and nature
centers. Open space in Chicago is zoned the same land adjacent to it, sometimes
allowing cemeteries to be sold for residential purposes without so much as a
public hearing. Furthermore, the new POS district (a key MPC recommendation, click here
information) will affect park buildings and facilities as well,
providing a more rational and uniform set of guidelines for their development
than occurred when parks were zoned as factories or single-family homes.
The transportation district (T)
is intended to preserve rights-of-way currently used for transportation purposes
(think rail roads) from being converted to other uses, thereby losing the
connective benefits of these linear stretches of land. Even if a freight rail
line is no longer in service, the corridor could be developed as a bike trail,
busway or other transportation-related use. Once these rights-of-way are lost it
is very difficult to reclaim or acquire land necessary for similar
is not dead.
Rather, it is very much alive in the City’s twenty-one industrial corridors
which were developed with community input in the early nineties. It’s time to
update the boundaries of these corridors to reflect changes in development
patterns and to retain these lands dedicated to industrial preservation and
The last two priority remapping
areas go hand in hand--the new P designation for pedestrian-oriented shopping
districts and the B2 which is a dynamic district that allows either residential
or retail on the ground floor. Where neighborhood retail is thriving and the
character of the street favors pedestrians over cars, the new P designation is
just the ticket.
is characterized by a high concentration of
continuous street fronting, stores and restaurants with minimal curb cuts and
driveways. Many of
’s local tourist hot
spots are P streets including Chinatown (Wentworth from Cermak to
) and Little Italy (Taylor from Carpenter to
lesser known neighborhood centers also make the cut, for example Roscoe from
Damen to Leavitt in the
neighborhood is a prime example.
But what happens at the edge of these thriving markets? That’s where the B2
comes into play.
The B2 district allows either
residential or commercial on the base of a structure thereby allowing the market
to determine the best use. The old code did not have this flexibility resulting
in either vacant storefronts where excess supply of commercial was located or
lost opportunities where homes abutted a commercial strip. Picture a thriving
node of retail where commercial uses are required on the ground floor. A quarter
mile from its center though, the market may not be as strong yet. That’s where a
B2 designation is appropriate. When the market gets to the point that retail can
be supported on the ground floor, the use will be allowed to change without the
hassle of applying for a zoning change.
All this mapping is expected to
be done in the next twelve to eighteen months with most aldermen having draft
plans in their hand as early as June 2005. The Metropolitan Planning Council
will continue to work with selected communities on their remapping challenges
and looks forward to collaborating with the City in other areas as well.