Community Process for Zoning and Land Use Changes

This process must be followed by any business owner, building owner, and/or developer seeking a change significant to the use and/or zoning of a specific site including special use permits, change of zoning, zoning variations, alley access for new developments, approval in a designated TIF area, or are Planned Developments or developments covered by the Lakefront Protection Ordinance. In most cases, this process is not needed for securing business licenses, public way permits, sign permits, sidewalk café permits, and loading zones. This process is intended to benefit both the community and the incoming business by:

  • Streamlining the decision making process in order to ease the process of opening a business in the 48th Ward
  • Allowing for meaningful, community input by both residential and business organizations and residents who serve and/or live in the area affected by the change
** COVID-19 Process **
While public health concerns related to the Coronavirus pandemic remain, we have made the following adjustments to the 48th Ward Community Process, in order to allow for public input:
  • Meetings with neighbors and community groups will be held virtually via a video conference platform (eg: Zoom). Developers requesting zoning changes/variances will be expected to present their plans via the “share screen” function in order to provide a visual for community members.
  • The Alderman will accept community feedback at the virtual community meeting and by email for seven (7) days following the meeting. He will use this feedback to inform his decision on the request.

Process for approval:

  1. Initial request for approval comes to Alderman Ostermanʼs office. To submit a zoning and/or land use matter for consideration, contact Chief of Staff Dan Luna at or call 773-784-5277.
  2. Alderman and/or his representative meet with the party seeking approval to review the proposal, make initial suggestions and explain the community process.
  3. Party seeking approval notifies the following with a description of the proposal:
    1. Residents within 1,000 feet of commercial site in question by certified mailing
    2. Business support organizations (chambers and development corporations) serving the area of the site in question
    3. Residential organizations (block clubs) serving the area of the site in question. The 48th Ward office will provide you with a list of business and residential organizations to contact.
  4. Representative organizations are given four weeks to organize a meeting between themselves and the party seeking approval in order to hear the development plans first-hand and present feedback and recommendations. The 48th Ward office can help organize this meeting if necessary.
  5. After meeting with the party seeking approval, the representative organizations may present a
    written recommendation to the Alderman’s office outlining their feedback and approval/disapproval. 6. A final meeting including the party seeking approval, the representative organizations, and Alderman Osterman and staff is held. At this meeting, the party seeking approval will make a final presentation, including modifications to the original proposal based on community input.
  6. After hearing the final presentation, the community representatives present at the meeting deliberate and vote.
  7. The final vote taken at the joint meeting acts as an advisory vote to the Alderman.
  8. The 48th Ward office notifies the party seeking approval and the representative organizations of the final decision within 3-5 business days of the joint meeting
  9. Alderman Osterman conveys the decision in writing to the Plan Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Committee on Zoning, or other appropriate authority. Letters from representative organizations may be enclosed.

Please Note:

  • Developers of residential or mixed use developments of more than 10 units that need a zoning change or Planned Development will be asked to set aside 10% of the units for on-site affordable units, per the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO)
  • Proposed developments that have a community-wide impact (i.e. library, transportation hubs, etc.) will necessitate community-wide input and support.
  • Please plan for the 48th Ward community process to take a minimum of four to six weeks.