Communities are Created by Zoning Laws

What is Zoning?

Zoning is the power of a city to control the use and development of land inside city limits. Zoning controls how land is developed, where certain types of businesses can operate, how tall buildings can be, and whether a specific location is appropriate for residential homes or businesses.

The City sets specific rules for what types of buildings, businesses, and developments can be created in specifically identified zoning districts. Chicago’s zoning ordinance describes these restrictions, and a zoning map shows the areas where each restriction applies. 

Why Does it matter?

Through zoning, the City of Chicago (the “City”) promotes public health and safety, preserves quality of life, protects the character of residential neighborhoods, and maintains economically vibrant areas. 

Who is in charge of Zoning?

The City has several administrative bodies for administering zoning issues, including the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards, and the Chicago Plan Commission. Notably, Chicago aldermen also play a significant role in nearly all zoning decisions that change the zoning designations or grant special uses in their individual wards. Changes to the zoning rules are made depending on the type of change requested. The Zoning Administrator and the Zoning Board of Appeals handle certain requests, while more dramatic changes may require an amendment to the zoning map and require City Council approval.

Learn more about zoning and its impacts with these resources:

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