October 2002 Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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October 2002 Media Tips

MPC Media Tips is an occasional list of story ideas from the Metropolitan Planning Council.

Remapping Chicago: MPC to host zoning strategy workshops for community groups

The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is hosting two workshops about the City of Chicago's historic zoning rewrite process, its current status and critical next steps. MPC played a significant role over the last year by ensuring citizen input through a series of community meetings around the city. These resulted in nine recommendations from MPC to the Mayor's Zoning Reform Commission, all of which were incorporated into interim reports on the plan.

The next phase of the process will be the development of a new zoning map. Mapping determines where new zoning districts are placed, from pedestrian-oriented retail to mixed use, and how communities are developed over time. MPC's two workshops are designed to help community groups collaborate with alderman to develop a zoning change strategy for their wards. Zoning experts, including Beth Hibner of Camiros, Ltd. and Mike Mihelbergel of Bank of America, will provide background on the process, and answer specific questions about remapping and ways community groups can be effective participants.

The first workshop is on Nov. 7, 2002 at Bank One, 6650 S. Stony Island Ave.; the second is on Nov. 14, 2002 at Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N. St. Louis Ave. Both sessions will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. [These workshops are open to the working media but not the general public.  Please contact MPC at the number below to register.]

Contact:  Peter Skosey
Vice President, External Relations

Advocate Bethany jumps on employer-assisted housing bandwagon

With the help of MPC staff, Advocate Bethany Hospital on Chicago's west side is the latest company to launch an employer-assisted housing (EAH) program for its employees. The hospital wants to support housing development activities in the communities it serves, boost employee satisfaction and increase employee retention. Advocate Bethany is the fifth employer to roll out MPC's EAH initiative to employees. Those who qualify will benefit from homeownership education provided by Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Chicago and down payment assistance from Advocate Bethany. Employees will receive $5,000 if they commit to stay at the hospital for five years, or $3,000 tied to a three-year commitment. Other employers with active EAH programs include Bank One, Northwest Community Hospital, and the City of St. Charles.
Contact:  Samantha DeKoven
Housing Associate

Critical Cargo message resounds in Washington and throughout the country

Just as the effects of the longshoremen strike on the West Coast began to ripple across the country, representatives of the Metropolitan Planning Council traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with Rep. William Lipinski (D-Ill.), Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and other key leaders to discuss the region's freight transportation needs.

The strike brought into clear focus what would happen if our region's role as a major transportation hub for cargo and passengers alike were threatened. Business Leaders for Transportation's Critical Cargo: A Regional Freight Action Agenda has proven to be a valuable tool in Washington, as work moves forward to design improvements to the nation's deteriorating rail freight system. At stake is not just the future of an $8 billion regional shipping industry that employs 117,000 with an annual payroll of $3.2 billion. Freight problems affect the daily lives of all eight million of us who live and work in northeastern Illinois, whether measured by excess commuting time, worsened levels of air pollution, missed school classes and business appointments or delayed shipments to businesses. 

Contact: Karyn Romano
Transportation Director

Campaign for Sensible Growth lauds Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's reversal on wastewater treatment

In a quiet but dramatic reversal, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) decided not to eliminate the Facility Planning Area process, which determines the location of new sewer and wastewater treatment facilities in unincorporated areas, and therefore, the location of new development. Water quality was the underlying catalyst for the creation of the Facility Planning Areas process and, even with it, communities have found themselves at odds with each other over critical development issues that include where sewer lines can and cannot be placed. Richard Acker of Openlands Project, a Campaign partner, maintains, "The FPA process does work, even if imperfectly. It protects water quality by ensuring water and sewer development are subject to good planning and balanced growth goals."

IEPA is still not convinced that the FPA is the most effective tool, but local planning departments — including Will and McHenry counties and Lake County Stormwater Management — have joined the Campaign and MPC in voicing strong support for retention of the FPA process.

Contact:  Ellen Shubart
Manager, Campaign for Sensible Growth


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