Testimony in favor of coach houses to the City of Chicago Committee on Zoning - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Testimony in favor of coach houses to the City of Chicago Committee on Zoning

At the Chicago Zoning Committee’s public hearing on Module 3 of the zoning rewrite process (covering planned developments, rezonings and administrative adjustments), MPC advocated allowing new coach house development in the rewritten code to increase the

The Metropolitan Planning Council thanks Chairman Banks and the rest of the Committee for this opportunity to comment on Module 3 today. Module 3 represents one of the most important chapters of the zoning ordinance, as it lays out the rules for administering the ordinance going forward, including how property owners apply for map amendments (rezonings), appeals or administrative adjustments. MPC congratulates the Mayor’s Zoning Reform Commission on its thorough attention to the details of this section and has only one major addition and four minor suggestions to make to this module.

Recommended Changes to Module 2

§ Since the beginning of this zoning rewrite process, MPC has advocated that Chicago’s new zoning code should facilitate the construction of a wider variety of housing options. The current language in this module allowing only one building per zoning lot makes it difficult to build housing types that have historically been part of Chicago’s neighborhood fabric — namely, coach houses. The new code should also acknowledge that changing demographics drive a need for more housing options. According to the 2000 Census, 33 percent of Chicagoans live alone, nine percent of those being seniors. Coach houses could represent an important addition to Chicago’s already tight rental market especially for such diverse groups of individuals as young singles moving to the city start their first jobs out of college, or for seniors who wish to downsize their living space but remain in their neighborhoods. Coach houses provide needed rental units, as well as a steady income stream for property owners. The City could allow new coach house developments with certain restrictions on them to ensure they meet the City’s goals of preserving community character and encouraging orderly development. One such restriction may be limiting coach house development to lots greater than the average 25’x 125’ lot to prevent crowding. The Commission’s minimum rear yard open space requirement from Module 1 ensures that backyard green space will continue to exist in any new development. MPC would be happy to discuss how coach houses may be accommodated in the new code with members of the Committee or the Mayor’s Zoning Reform Commission.

§ MPC recommends that the Zoning Board of Appeals notify aldermen when any change is sought in their wards. In keeping with the Commission’s goal of preserving community character, any zoning change may significantly impact a particular neighborhood so the residents’ representative in City Council should be made aware of any potential changes. [Public Hearing Notices (Page 13-2 17-13-0107A #10)]

§ MPC strongly supports new criteria that consider whether proposed rezoning would adversely impact viability of the city’s industrial corridors. MPC recommends that the language define industrial corridors as those 26 corridors designated by the Department of Planning and Department. [Zoning Map Amendments in Industrial Corridors (Page 13-10, 17-13-0400)]

§ MPC recommends clarifying the site plan review section by listing all uses that require site plan review in this administrative section and by adding a column in the residential, commercial and manufacturing use tables in Modules 1 and 2 to indicate where site plan review is required. MPC also recommends adding large drive-through uses (like banks or car washes) to the list of uses for which site plan review is required. [Site Plan Review (Page 13-15, 17-13-0700)]

§ MPC supports the new administrative adjustment sections, which allow the Zoning Administrator to reduce required parking spaces by one space in RT4, RM4.5, RM5 districts and two spaces in RM 5.5, RM6 & RM6.5 districts. MPC also supports allowing the zoning administrator to approve shared parking arrangements between two or more uses. These provisions will provide the city needed flexibility to waive parking requirements where they are not necessary and support residents who primarily use transit. [Parking Reductions and Shared Parking (Page 13-27 17-13-0903-Z & -AA)]

MPC commends the Commission for its innovative and hard work on the new ordinance and looks forward to subsequent opportunities to comment. Thank you.

Questions concerning this testimony may be directed to Peter Skosey, Vice President of External Relations, at 312-863-6004.


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