By Devin Rose
The two bodies have been at odds over the amendment for months, but the River Forest village board on Monday night put the matter to rest by accepting a Zoning Board of Appeals recommendation that will accommodate more zoning variation requests.
The ZBA proposed a change to the village zoning ordinance that would allow further wall extensions for additions on homes that do not conform to the current zoning code.
John Houseal, a planning consultant for the village, recommended in August that the current 12-foot wall extensions on nonconforming homes be expanded to 20 feet. That would put 77 percent of the total number of rear addition permits for the last five years in line with the code, up from 61 percent with the 12-foot limit. The ZBA also recommended that the height of the wall that maintains a nonconforming side yard setback shall not be increased.
Requests for extensions of more than 20 feet would require a public hearing — a part of the zoning variation process that the ZBA was afraid of losing if the original amendment proposed by the village earlier this year had passed.
Village staff had recommended an amendment that would allow residents of nonconforming homes to build additions as long as the additions don't exceed the current footprint of the structure. The village said it provided more creativity in designing homes that people want to live in today. The ZBA rejected that in May, saying homes could be built too close together without a public hearing being held.
The amendment also would have eliminated a regulation prohibiting the vertical increase of a wall with a nonconforming setback, which the ZBA said could adversely impact neighbors.
There was little discussion at the meeting Monday, which three members of the ZBA attended. ZBA member and zoning attorney Dan Lauber urged the board to accept the recommendation, saying both groups are concerned about protecting property rights.
With one trustee absent, the board unanimously accepted the zoning change.
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