Chicago Codes
The Zoning Wars Begin

Residents and merchants of Andersonville are getting ready to voice their opinions on potential zoning changes to their North Side neighborhood following the citywide zoning revision ordinance passed in May. Ald. Mary Ann Smith (48th) will hold the ward's first public meeting on the issue next month.

According to Marion Volini, the broker-owner of the Lakefront Group Realty Associates, there will be a fight between those who want to preserve Andersonville's quaint character and those who want to maximize the value of their land. Neighborhood groups are prepared to battle developers opposed to down-zoning. Olga Bean, president of the East Andersonville Residents Council, feels the biggest concern is the six story building, which is what the current zoning allows. However, she is concerned that buildings that size will be out of scale with the existing two and three-story structures. The new zoning codes take effect November 1 and are the first overhauling of the city's zoning codes since 1957. These new rules will dictate everything from the density of commercial developments to height limits on new residential and commercial buildings.

In July, Ald. Smith introduced an ordinance to cap the height of new developments along Clark Street between Victoria and Winona Streets in Andersonville. This was meant to prevent potential developers from buying and demolishing old buildings while the neighborhood community explores how to apply the new zoning rules. However, Tim Rasmussen, owner of Charlie's Ale House and Andersonville resident, doesn't believe down-zoning will prevent buildings from being torn down. He also adds that Ald. Smith did not consult the neighborhood's property owners on her proposal.

Andersonville is not the only area facing development pressures. Others include East Village and River North, where aldermen have also introduced down-zoning ordinances. Ald. Manuel Flores (1st) states that development is good, but over-development can be harmful.

The meeting to discuss zoning changes on Clark Street in Andersonville is scheduled for Sept. 14, at the Swedish American Museum Center, 5211 Clark St.