If I'm rehabbing my home or building, does it require zoning relief?
The City’s zoning ordinance dictates the size, the height, the amount of space, the required open space, etc., you can build. Your architect should be able to tell you the zoning requirements based on the plans for building permit submission, but often if you are improving a property with new construction or major addition, you need to be aware that zoning laws may restrict what you can build. If you are planning on building on the lot after closing, make sure the necessary zoning entitlements are in place to do so before purchasing the property.
What types of restrictions might zoning laws create?
Depending on the kind of building and intended use, whether you are building a single-family home, multi-unit residence, a multi-use building, or commercial property in the City, you need to be aware that the project will be limited depending on the zoning designation for the lot/lots. A home in a residential neighborhood, for example, will be zoned either: RS1, RS2, RS3, RT3.5, RT4, RM4.5, RM5, RM5.5 or RM6. The size of the building and the kind of residence you can build will be determined based on the zoning district in which it falls. As a rule of thumb, the larger the number (i.e. RM6 is the highest), the more units and square footage you can construct.
Can I run my store or office out of my house?
The Chicago Zoning Ordinance divides the City into residential, business, and commercial districts for the most part. What you can do with your property will mostly depend on the district in which it falls. A residential district, for example, may not be entirely restricted to living and residential use, but it is not generally going to allow for traditional commercial activity. Make sure you are aware of the permitted uses in your zoning designation before embarking on any kind of business venture.
What are my options if I want to build outside the Chicago Zoning Ordinance?
Just because the Ordinance does not permit your plan that does not necessarily mean that your project is finished. If you are looking to build or conduct a use that is not permitted as of right, meaning the Zoning Ordinance prohibits it, then you may be able to obtain zoning relief. The most common types of zoning relief are variations, administrative adjustments, special use permits planned developments, zoning map changes. The attorneys at Braun & Rich can walk you through these different types of zoning reliefs, but all will require special standards that you must be able to prove. With that said, the determination of whether you are able to obtain the right zoning or zoning relief for your property is not guaranteed. Be aware that there is always a risk at trying to obtain zoning entitlements.