At the second meeting of its kind, a consultant from Houseal Lavigne & Associate, who is managing the revision of the code, presented recommendations to the board members of how the new code could be structured and what could be included in it. The current code was enacted in 2002. The goal is to make the new code more user-friendly, implement more visual representations, update terminology and definitions that are obsolete and more.
To accomplish these goals, Houseal Lavigne recommended eliminating legalese and jargon where possible, eliminating redundancies throughout the code and including graphics and diagrams to illustrate regulations and clarify how they should be interpreted.
As presented by Jackie Wells, project manager for Houseal Lavigne, the zoning ordinance would be structured into nine articles:
Article 1: General Provisions
Article 2: Establishment of Districts
Article 3: District Standards
Article 4: Use-Specific Standards
Article 5: Development Standards
Article 6: Planned Development Standards and Procedures
Article 7: Zoning Procedures
Article 8: Nonconformities
Article 9: Definitions
According to a village document, zoning ordinances are best organized “in a manner that makes them straightforward to use and administer.” But the structure of the current code, “makes the zoning ordinance more difficult for potential applicants to navigate.” For example, definitions for terms used throughout the ordinance, which are normally used in certain situations where interpretation is required, are in the first article rather than at the end, the consultants’ proposal notes. The goal of the proposed structure is to address challenges like this.
After discussing the reasoning behind the proposed structure, Wells went on to discuss her firm’s preliminary recommendations for revisions under the umbrella of each of the nine articles. To address what was described as a “proliferation of Salon and Spa establishments” in the village, the firm recommended consolidating Salon/Spa Establishments into the “Personal Service” category. A proposal for Article 4 for short term rental standards like Air BnB’s seeks to establish standards to “manage and reduce their housing affordability and the character of the residential neighborhood,” according to the proposal. The standards would lay out the following:
A maximum number of guests
Minimum and maximum duration of stay for guests
Maximum number of operation days in a calendar year
Require that the site have an existing owner-occupied residential component and that the owner stays on the site.
Other recommendations had to do with varies zoning standards including regulations for off-street parking and loading, landscaping and subletting office space.
After the presentation, residents got a chance to ask questions and comment. Some had questions and concerns about a recommended provision prohibiting chain link fences. One resident said that isn’t a good idea.
“A lot of Homewood residents are working class and don’t have the money to put in new fences,” he said.
Some of the speakers donned shirts with logos from South Suburbs for Green Space, a group that organized to prevent the development of the Calumet Country Club into a proposed warehouse. They’ve voiced concerns about noise, truck traffic, loss of their home values and negative environmental effects as a result of the development.
One of the members said upon reviewing the recommendations, they didn’t see “any verbiage to guarantee an industrial district cannot abut to a residential district” but was relieved to hear that some protections would be part of the code.
“I’m also not seeing a lot of considerations for making the zoning updates more eco friendly and sustainable but maybe this is just the beginning stages and it’s going to be fleshed out more,” she said. “I am looking forward to seeing that. I think the residents have overwhelmingly asked for this on a survey and I just want to make sure (those things) are included in the update.”