The Jefferson Park Free Press

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April 15, 2005

Volume II                             News and Commentary                           Issue III

by Robert Bank


Danger in High Density Zoning, Even if It’s Just One Lot

39th Ward Alderman Marge Laurino has recently allowed a zoning change from C-1 to B2-2 at 4605-07 N. Elston Avenue, currently the site of an old farmhouse. Alderman Laurino makes no bones about her dislike of Commercial (C- zoning) and the onslaught of auto repair businesses that C- zoning brings and many agree with her, but allowing the change to a Business B2-2 zoning has a danger all it’s own especially when its adjacent to a large parcel of land such as the Village Discount Outlet (formerly Butera’s Finer Foods) that the above mentioned farmhouse abuts. Alderman Laurino responded that she feels this is a test project to see if this type of development should be the template for future growth in the area. That’s what Lou Krueger president of the North Mayfair Improvement Association (NMIA) and nearby residents such as Tony Provenzano fear, that this will become the future template! A (B2)-2 opens the door to future zoning change requests for high-density zoning. Just imagine if the Village Discount Outlet owners request a zoning change to B2-2, which would increase its value immensely, on what basis would the City have to deny the request?

I asked Alderman Laurino if she felt she had the power to turn down future requests for similar up-zoning on that block from other property owners, and she feels that she does have such authority, however several zoning attorneys have explained to me that a court challenge on the rejection of such a request for a zoning change from C-1 to B2-2 would have a good chance of winning, now that a precedent has been set on that same block. Just think how many condos could be built on that large plot of land!  A “B1-1”, “B2-1”, or “B3-1” would have been a much better solution (see reprint of my February 8, 2005 column on the last page). The number after the Dash (-) plays a great role in the density of units allowed, the higher the number the more condos allowed. This certainly has a great effect on quality of life issues such as parking, pollution, school overcrowding and the burden on sewers to name a few. Why go to a (B2)-2, what is wrong with (B2)-1?

I hope Alderman Marge Laurino does a better job of protecting our neighborhood in the future, the advice was there from the community from the beginning but she chose to ignore it.




(you still must call the Zoning Committee chair Ald. Banks’ office at (312) 744-6857 to find out what is on the agenda)



Area-1 Schools Bursting At The Seams?

At the March 30th Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association (JPNA) meeting Dr. Janice Rosales Chicago Public Schools Area-1 Area Instructional Officer (AIO) was guest speaker. One of the questions Dr. Rosales answered was concerning a rumor that due to overcrowding, the “Options” or “Gifted” program at Beaubien School may have to move to another school, very likely not in our Area-1, since Area-1 schools are all facing increasing enrollments. Dr. Rosales stated that with all the new housing going up in the area, school enrollment is forcing school administrators to make some tough decisions. Neighborhood children come first, even if that means “Gifted” or “Options” programs have to move to another school. One parent asked why couldn’t her daughter who is in the “Options” program at Beaubien, transfer to an “Options” program at Edison school, which is closer to her home. Dr. Rosales’ answer was that her daughter could go to Edison school only if there was an available seat in the Edison school’s “Options” program and there certainly aren’t going to be 29 available seats at Edison for all the Beaubien “Options” students. These were not comforting words to Beaubien “Options” parents!

JPNA board member Greg Sedlacek, said that the overcrowding issue was brought up over two years ago, at the JPNA’s May 30, 2002 meeting by Mike Renkosiak, Beaubien Local School Council (LSC) president.  Some days after that May 2002 JPNA meeting, Alderman Levar, Beaubien School Principal Kotis, LSC president Mike Renkosiak and the developer of the proposed 7-story 132 unit development at 5301 W. Lawrence, Jim Kozonis met to discuss the issue. However, when Mr. Sedlacek asked about the meeting’s discussion, he was informed that it was a “closed door” meeting and that was the last Mr. Sedlacek ever heard about it.

In a phone interview, Principal Kotis stated that “no-one (“Options” or any other student) is going anywhere” and if necessary, Mr. Kotis insists there is still room to add some classrooms if necessary. Mr. Kotis stated that he does recall the above-mentioned meeting but said it was not an official meeting but more of a casual conversation that took place in his office over two years ago.

To paraphrase an old typing class exercise, “Now is the time for all good men and good women to come to the aid of their Local School Council (LSC).” Make time to go to your school’s LSC meetings ask another parent to meet you there, and then, ask for honest answers from all your school officials!


*************The following is reprinted from the February 8, 2005 issue**************

It’s All About The Dash (-)

by Robert Bank

A developer is requesting an up-zoning to B2-3 concerning the property at 4517 W. Lawrence, currently the property is zoned B3-1. The project will be discussed at the Mayfair Civic Association’s meeting February 10, 2005 at 7:30 p.m. at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Avenue. 

The B3 is what determines which types of business’ can operate there, but the “-1” determines the density. Given that the developer’s plan calls for only condos and no retail the B3 portion of this equation doesn’t really come into play but the “- 3” sure does. As the number following the dash goes up so does the density. For example a “- 1” requires a minimum of 2,500 square ft. of lot area for every unit, a “-1.5” allows 1,350 square feet of lot area per unit,  “- 2” allows only 1000 sq. ft. of lot area per unit and a  “-3” allows for even greater density requiring only 400 square feet per unit. So for example if you had 29,800 sq. ft. of land and you were zoned B2-3 you could build 74 condos! If the property was zoned B2-2 you would be allowed 29 condos, B2-1.5 would allow for 22 condos and if zoned B2-1, you could only build 11 condos.

 That number after the dash makes a big difference. Now imagine that you bought a property zoned B3-1 but you were able to get it rezoned to B2-3, that “dash three” could make your property worth a lot lot more. Why should the Alderman and the City give away that zoning? What is the community getting in return for this extreme density? What about the impact on the schools, traffic congestion, flooding and quality of life in general? Why would Alderman Levar want to diminish the quality of life just to increase a developer’s profits? If the developer bought the property as zoned let him build as zoned. Once the zoning change is allowed, the precedent will have been set and the City will have a very difficult time refusing, if it can refuse at all, future requests for up-zoning on the remaining parcels of the 4500 block of W. Lawrence Avenue.


Example:  Zoning classification for B2-__                          Example: 29,800 sq. ft lot


Dash  1     :    2,500 sq. ft. minimum lot area   per unit               allows approx. 11 condos

Dash  1.5  :    1,350 sq. ft. minimum lot area   per unit               allows approx. 22 condos

Dash  2     :    1,000 sq. ft. minimum lot area   per unit               allows approx. 29 condos

Dash  3     :       400 sq. ft. minimum lot area   per unit               allows approx. 74 condos





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