I’m pleased to report that the agendas and minutes of the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee are back online. A well-meaning student intern in my office had accidentally erased the minutes from my web site some time ago. After months of hard work, we’ve been able to restore the agendas and minutes and put them back up.
As you may know, Chicago has a custom and tradition of vesting to each alderman the power over zoning and land use matters in his or her ward. This gives local residents the ability to control the development of their neighborhood through the local elected official closest and most accountable to them–their alderman. Unfortunately, some aldermen have abused this power, and have used it to personally benefit themselves or their friends and allies.
That is why I involve the residents of the 49th Ward in every zoning and land use issue that comes before me and have put into place the most transparent decision-making process of any ward in the city.
No land-use decision is made without a thorough and public airing of all the issues. I refer all zoning and land-use issues to the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee, which consists of representatives of the major community organizations, business owners, and ordinary neighborhood residents. The Committee, which I formed when I was first elected in 1991, thoroughly reviews all 49th Ward land use proposals, including building design, landscaping, parking, and its impact on the surrounding community, to ensure that the proposed project is a positive addition to the neighborhood.
As part of my ongoing commitment to make my zoning and land-use decisions as transparent as possible, I began in May 2007 to post on my web site the agendas and minutes of the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee.
Only a handful of Chicago aldermen have community-based zoning advisory committees, and only three aldermen make any effort to post minutes of their committee meetings on the web. Of those three, I am the only alderman whose zoning committee minutes are currently up-to-date.
In addition, I hold public meetings on all but the most routine zoning matters to solicit the opinions of community residents on development proposals. The input I receive from those meetings is an important component of my decision-making process.
If you are a regular reader of these electronic newsletters, you know that I inform the residents of my ward of my decision on every major zoning and land use issue that comes before me and the reasons for my decision. My decisions on more minor or routine matters are set forth in the Zoning Advisory Committee minutes.
I reserve the right to reject a recommendation of the Advisory Committtee, but in the vast majority of cases, I abide by the Committee’s decision. If I decide to reject their advice, I’ll explain in detail why I’ve done so.
By making my zoning decisions in a very open and transparent manner, and by keeping you involved every step of the way, I hope to give you the confidence that my decisions are based solely on what I believe to be in the best interests of the residents of the 49th Ward.
When persuing the Zoning page of my web site, ward49.com, you might want to take a look at the summary of our 49th Ward Zoning Remap process, which resulted in the downzoning of over 30 residential blocks in our ward to help curb over-development and protect the residential character of our neighborhood. As a result of that process, our ward experienced one the largest number of downzonings of any ward in the city.
No process is perfect, and I welcome any suggestions you have on how I might further improve my zoning and land use decision-making process. Please feel free to reply to this email and share your ideas.
I look forward to hearing from you.