Zoning Ordinance? What Zoning Ordinance?


This week’s editions of the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate and the Park Ridge Journal carried accounts of how the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission (“P&Z”) is addressing the development proposal for the three residential properties located at 1963 through 1975 W. Touhy – immediately east of the Town of Maine Cemetery (“Commission suggests changes for Touhy condo developer,” Herald-Advocate Sept. 10; “Park Ridge Condo Plan Requires Variances,” Journal Sept. 9).

In case you missed it, Hoffman Homes, Inc. wants a change those parcels from their current R-2 status to R-4, and then construct 32 (per the H-A) or 20 (per the Journal) condominium units where only 12 would normally be allowed.  For the record, the City’s own report for the August 25th P&Z meeting [pdf] references the 32 unit figure, so we’ll go with that – and we wonder where the Journal came up with only 20. 

Which means that Hoffman is looking for 20 units more than the R-4 designation permits for that site!  Absurd?  Not from what we’ve seen from P&Z or our City Council over the years. 

In fact, with the way land is re-zoned and variances handed out over at City Hall, a development that observes the zoning code and doesn’t ask for variances – like the Neri Companies’ Gateway Estates at 315 S. Northwest Hwy. – is the rare exception rather than the rule.

Remember the proposed Heinz development at Greenwood and Northwest Hwy.?  Or Norwood Builders’ Executive Office Plaza development on Northwest Hwy. and Washington?  Each one of those got a significant number of additional units, although it looks like the recession has put both of those developments on the back burner for the time being. But that’s why we aren’t surprised when Hoffman shows up asking for all those extra units.

Oh, we hear Community Development Director Carrie Davis saying that “density is probably the biggest issue.”  No, Ms. Davis, an overage of almost 200% in residential units, or “density,” is DEFINITELY the biggest issue, or at least it should be. 

Because Hoffman Homes has not yet submitted a formal application for a planned development, P&Z considered what is known under our zoning code as a “concept plan review.” 

The City’s Community Preservation and Development Department recommendation was that P&Z should “[p]rovide comments” on the concept plan and ask Hoffman to “provide some indication…as to what public benefits listed in Section 5.5 [of the zoning code] are to be provided in exchange for the exceptions….”

We wonder why they didn’t simply tell Hoffman: “Come back after you have read our zoning code and have a project that conforms to it”?