The Committee on Zoning approved plans to build a new Whole Foods in Lakeview, Tishman Speyer’s proposed 53-story office tower in the Loop, a boutique Viceroy Hotel in the Gold Coast, and a new Half Acre brewery and beer garden in Ravenswood. But those big ticket items took only a fraction of the four-and-a-half hour zoning meeting yesterday.

Committee Members present: Chairman Danny Solis (25), Vice Chairman James Cappleman (46), Joe Moreno (1), David Moore (17), Howard Brookins, Jr. (21), Walter Burnett (27), Deb Mell (33), Marge Laurino (39), Brendan Reilly (42), Tom Tunney (44), Ameya Pawar (47)

Non-members present: Harry Osterman (48), Sue Sadlowski-Garza (10), Anthony Beale (9)

The committee dedicated close to an hour discussing an application to expand a 60-year-old community of manufactured homes along Wolf Lake in the 10th Ward.

The community has been around since the 1950s, and was reclassified into a Residential Business Planned Development in 2008 with the goal of removing the existing manufactured homes and replacing them with 953 detached homes, 30,000 sq. ft. of retail space, and 44.5 acres of open space. But the economic downturn stalled that project and the original applicant for the PD went into foreclosure. Harbor Point Venture, LLC bought the property in 2012 with the intent of expanding the number of manufactured homes from the current 190 units to 747.

The Zoning Committee approved Harbor Point Venture, LLC’s proposal in January, but due to some confusion over building permits, the plan never advanced to the full City Council. Manufactured homes are an anomaly that don’t fit the zoning code because they are usually constructed off site and don’t follow the same zoning requirements as detached, single-family homes, Zoning Administrator Patti Scudiero explained after several aldermen expressed confusion over the project.

The application was being revisited at the request of freshman Ald. Susan Sadlowski-Garza. When she succeeded Ald. John Pope in office, she asked that the committee revisit the plan after she had time to get acquainted with it. After two community meetings and numerous talks with the developers, Ald. Garza said she was in favor of the project and asked that the committee re-approve the application. They did.

A significant amount of time was also spent on Ald. Anthony Beale’s (9) application to rezone a vacant public elementary school in the Roseland community. Ald. Beale said reclassifying the site of the former John G. Shedd Elementary School from a residentially zoned area to a manufacturing district is a “routine land plan usage ordinance”. The school has been vacant since 2013, one of the roughly 50 schools closed by CPS at the time. Last December, the Board of Education rejected two offers to buy the property because neither bid was high enough, according to DNAinfo. “The community is very concerned about the use of what this facility will be,” Ald. Beale explained. “It’s an entire block, so we are changing the zoning for future land plan usage, so we can make sure that whatever goes there, the community has input on the development.” Residents who testified were mostly concerned about the impact the zoning change would have on their property values and if it would lead to more economic development in the community.

Changing the block into an M1-1 district would restrict the type of development allowed on site, and if CPS eventually sells the property and the new owner seeks rezone the site, it would have to go through a lengthy zoning process, as any downzone from a manufacturing district would require approval from the Plan Commission. Before the committee approved Ald. Beale’s request, Ald. James Cappleman (46) asked if any charter schools had expressed interest in the site. Beale said no.

Ald. Harry Osterman’s (48) application to sunset an expired Planned Developmentin Edgewater was also a point of contention, as the developers sought a one year extension to move forward on plans to build a residential building for seniors.

Ald. Osterman filed an application to sunset Residential Planned Development #1056 and revert the area back to a Community Shopping district. The PD expired in May, and Ald. Osterman said he wanted to bring the area back to its original zoning classification so the local community could have a say in any future development. But at the committee meeting yesterday, the lawyer for the owner of the PD, Barry Levin, accused accused Ald. Osterman of sunsetting the PD without notifying his clients and asked that the Committee grant a one year extension. He said this clients were planning to build a residential complex for seniors and downzoning the property would prohibit that kind of construction, forcing his clients to re-apply for a new Planned Development. Reapplying for a new PD would trigger the stricter affordable housing requirements the City Council approved last year. The committee approved the application, after Solis pulled up records proving notice was mailed to the community.

The Committee also approved nearly a dozen mayoral appointments, including:

  • Gabriel Ignacio Dziekiewicz as member of Commission on Chicago. He is the president and principal of design for DesignBridge, an architecture, interior design and graphic design firm.
  • Juan G. Moreno as member of Commission on Chicago Landmarks. He is the president and founder of JGMA (Juan Gabriel Moreno Architects), a self-described progressive architecture and design firm founded in 2010 and based in Chicago.
  • Carmen A. Rossi as member of Commission on Chicago Landmarks. He is a commercial lawyer and restaurateur and owns the Hubbard Inn in River North and Barn & Co. in Lincoln Park.
  • Blake P. Sercye as member of Zoning Board of Appeals. He is a litigator for corporate law firm Jenner & Block and also has a pro-bono practice in Austin that focuses on fair housing, prisoner rights and criminal defense.