According to the new Department of Housing and Economic Development website, the Department of Community Development and the Department of Zoning and Land Use Planning combined on Jan. 1, 2011, to form a joint department.
Any Chicagoan will tell you aldermen decide zoning changes. If a resident or a business wants a change, they go to their local alderman. If the alderman approves, the city council likely will go along.
But Ald. Scott Waguespack’s challengers in the Feb. 22 election said he has not done enough to fix inconsistencies in zoning in the 32nd Ward.
“[Scott] says he has guidelines, but he doesn’t say what these guidelines are,” said candidate Brian Gorman, 36.
“We all have an investment to maintain the continuity of the ward,” Gorman said. “The zoning changes and variances are there for a reason.”
Bryan Lynch, 39, said he wants to make it easier for new businesses to open, but also make sure those businesses adhere to the neighborhood standard.
“I want the 32nd Ward to be an environment in which business know they have a partner in the alderman to become a successful business,” Lynch said.
Ron Litke, a spokesman for candidate David Pavlik, 29, agreed, saying his candidate will also promote business while preserving the character of the ward’s neighborhoods.
“This is a ward that’s had major transition in the last 20 years,” Litke said. “It merits the attention of somebody to service this area full time.”
Waguespack defended his record on zoning.
“Wicker Park and Bucktown have had a high rate of zoning changes,” Waguespack said. “Businesses can no longer afford the high rents on some of those streets, so they moved to other parts of the ward and further away from the high rents. The zoning guidelines I put together help businesses predict those changes.”
According to the zoning guidelines he revised in April 2009, some of Waguespack’s goals are encouraging development that conforms to the existing zoning map, requiring strict compliance of public notice, promoting new development seeking to reflect the character and context of adjacent buildings, minimizing public infringement and preserving existing affordable housing, while furthering new affordable housing projects.
“What we try to do ward-wide is make it easier for businesses,” Waguespack said. “We want to make it easier for them to work through the bureaucracy of the department of business affairs downtown.”