Homewood trustees will consider measures Tuesday, March 22, intended to make local government a little more efficient.
If approved, the village will merge its Plan Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals. The combined board would be known as the Planning and Zoning Commission, according to Tom Vander Woude, Homewood director of economic development.
The move has been considered by village officials for some time. Last week, members of the Plan Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals voted to support the change, he said.
The move would also “make the village a little more business friendly,” Vander Woude explained, by reducing the number of meetings a prospective business would have to participate in to receive project approval,” he said.
The village always has had the two boards, with some distinct and some overlapping duties.
The Plan Commission’s function is to develop a comprehensive plan for the village and evaluate projects within the context of the plan. It approves site plans and subdivisions and reviews special use permit requests.
The Zoning Board of Appeals reviews requests for variances from the zoning ordinance.
Both boards review planned unit developments and proposed amendments to the zoning ordinance.
The Planning and Zoning Commission would be responsible for all the functions currently performed by the two boards.
“It’s essentially a procedural change,” Vander Woude said. “Everything about the zoning ordinance will stay the same except the process will be slightly different.”
Combined plan and zoning boards are fairly common. Vander Woude cited Lansing, Oak Forest, Beecher and Naperville village government joint commissions as examples.
The Plan Commission is conducting fewer hearings for new subdivisions, street plats and utility installations, Vander Woude said, because there is little area in Homewood left for expansion.
“Homewood is built out. We’re focused on redevelopment,” he said. “The Plan Commission’s role is not as robust in redevelopment as it is in new development. It’s still essential, but they’re not as busy as they would be in a community that’s growing outward.”
The Plan Commission’s reduced volume of work is reflected in the number of times it has had to meet in recent years. A review of meeting cancellations noted on the village website indicates that more than half its meetings have been canceled in each of the past four years.
The commission has also had vacancies for some time. It currently has six of its nine seats filled. The Zoning Board of Appeals is at full strength, with seven members.
The combined board will also have seven seats, a number set by state statutue, Vander Woude said.
The members of the combined board would be appointed by Homewood Village President Richard Hofeld. Some members of the existing boards are expected to be included in the new board, and others could have opportunities to continue serving the village in other capacities.