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Homewood revisits zoning codes, seeks residents’ input

The village of Homewood is reviewing and revising its zoning code and is inviting public participation in the process. The current code was enacted in 2002. 

The process, which began in June, is expected to take about 18 months to complete. The revision will be managed by consulting firm Houseal Lavigne & Associates. 

A July 16 memo from Houseal Lavigne posted on the village website lists a number of areas in current zoning regulations that already have been identified as needing reconsideration and amendment. Suggestions from residents will be considered for inclusion in the list of revision options, according to the memo.

“Proposed policies should be carefully assessed with village goals, such as sustainability, in mind,” the memo states.

One example  listed in the memo would update the sustainability and open space provisions of the code. The current code addresses open spaces but not environmental sustainability.

The recommendation in the memo is to “Balance the preservation of open space and the development rights of private property owners through the establishment of standards for sustainable design and limitations on building coverage and/or impervious surface coverage as well as by revising the standards of review for processes such as special use permits and variances to ensure the environmental impact of applications is considered.”

The memo also notes that the revised code should account for event businesses and multiple-use facilities, both of which have emerged as property uses in recent years but aren’t specifically addressed in the current code, where they are considered under the broad category of “learning centers.”

Another example would bring the zoning code into alignment with current work practices. The current code does not specifically distinguish between home-based businesses and remote work-from-home situations. The revision could clarify the difference.

Other topics in the memo include addressing whether accessory dwelling units should be allowed in single family housing zones, retroactive permitting for two- and three-flat dwellings, short-term rentals and more.

According to village officials, the purpose of the code revision process will be to:

  • Modernize the zoning code to improve and simplify any outdated processes and procedures associated with the code.
  • Update to enhance the usability and understanding of the code with visual representations, charts, tables, matrices, sketches, etc.
  • Update terminology and definitions that are obsolete or add new clarifying definitions.
  • Identify and update any uses that are missing, unclear, need to be improved.
  • Add or remove permitted and special uses that are outdated.
  • Amend permitted and special use lists.
  • Review the current zoning districts’ purposes and boundaries for legitimacy.
  • Identify and remove inconsistencies with best practices and trends.
  • Ensure compliance with federal, state, and local legislation.

The first of four public meetings on the code revision will be hosted by the Homewood Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday, July 22, at 7:30 p.m. in village hall, 2020 Chestnut Road.

The meeting will also be accessible remotely via computer or smart phone.  

The meeting ID is  991 8481 1606 and the password is 573 812. 

To listen by phone, dial 312- 626-6799, use the ID and password above followed by the pound sign (#).

Anyone who wishes to submit comments or questions about the code revision can send email any time to [email protected].

There will be another public meeting on Jan. 27, 2022, and both the commission and the Board of Trustees will hold public hearings in November 2022.

Houseal Lavigne also provided a digital survey that allows residents to provide input. The survey can only be completed once and will be open until November 2022. 

The firm also created an interactive map that will allow residents to share issues and opportunities within the existing zoning code. The map tool can be used to note locations that need attention or are examples of community assets. There is a video tutorial to help residents learn how to use the map. 

Examples could include parking lots that need more landscaping, industrial uses in close proximity to homes, a building that has a great design, or any other land use ideas residents have. 

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