Committee May Tackle 'Archaic' Notification Process for Zoning Changes
Building height issue of particular relevance in light of Hahn Street development.
A committee discussion originally focused on the potential for taller buildings in the city has now ascended to a higher level. The city's Development, Planning and Zoning Committee will likely take a look at how residents and businesses are notified of possible changes in the zoning code.
The committee on Tuesday agreed with last month's Zoning and Planning Commission report that found the city does comply with state law in how it sends out notification of both text and map amendments.
This issue was raised in July when the Zoning and Planning Commission was set to consider an amendment that would allow for 65-foot-tall buildings downtown without setbacks from the street or conditional use application. Residents and two aldermen objected to the meeting after learning that the city did not notify neighbors, and that meeting was canceled.
But now DPZ Committee members are wondering if Elmhurst's and the state's requirements match up with how most people actually receive information. Currently, any discussion regarding a text amendment (generally a change in the zoning code that affects the city as a whole) needs to be preceded only by a notification published in a newspaper.
When map amendments, or requests to change the zoning of a particular area, are considered, the newspaper notice needs to be accompanied by a posted sign and a mailing to properties within 500 feet of the area in which the change is being considered.
DPZ Chairman and 6th Ward Alderman Steve Morley wondered if the city's current notification methods are “archaic,” as most people now use the Internet and email to get information.
“We may need to take a second look at how we notify people and who gets notified,” he said, noting that the Zoning Commission made the same observation.
But Terry Pastika, executive director of the Citizen Advocacy Center, said it is through mailings to individual homeowners that most people find out about potential changes in their community, and that letters are still legally identified as constituting “notification.”
Pastika asked for more notifications for text amendments that have a “disparate” impact on parts of the city.
“Not all text amendments treat property owners equally,” she said, citing the difference between a change in allowable sign sizes and a change in building heights.
Second Ward Alderman Norman Leader said he wanted to see any change in allowable building heights handled as a map rather than text amendment. While the city has withdrawn the text amendment that started the discussion, a presentation immediately following the DPZ meeting centered on the concept of a new, six-story building near York Road and North Avenue.