The community of Uptown straddles three wards, the 46th, 47th and 48th. Each ward handles zoning and land use issues differently. The lack of a standard process across all three wards makes it challenging for residents to understand their ward's process and their roles in it. As development continues, the importance of a standard Zoning and Land Use process throughout Uptown increases.
There are two major types of zoning and land use issues that are handled regularly in each ward: variances to zoning and zoning changes. When a developer or property owner approaches an alderman for a zoning variance or change, they are addressed as follows:
- In the 46th Ward, there is no formal zoning and land use committee, and community input is not consistently sought by the alderman. Therefore, developers are encouraged by the UCC and block clubs to seek neighborhood input by appearing before the UCC's Zoning Committee. The UCC is typically aware of zoning requests when public notices of them appear in the newspaper.
- In the 47th Ward, though there is no formal zoning and land use community review process, the alderman typically informs his constituency via the local block club/s and the UCC.
- In the 48th Ward, there is a zoning and land use committee established by the alderman, with fixed community representation. The committee formally meets each month to review the current zoning and land use requests and validate the direction the developer and alderman are moving in.
The UCC supports developing a standard zoning and land use committee process with fixed community representation supported by the alderman for each of the three wards in Uptown. Each ward's zoning and land use committee would include representatives from each major community group, i.e., block clubs, development councils and the respective chambers of commerce. Having formal zoning and land use committees, like in the 48th Ward and many other wards in Chicago, will help build local consensus and support for new developments in the community. The UCC supports replicating the 48th Ward's committee process so as to ensure formal local input throughout the various phases of a development.