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Monday, April 2, 2018

Court Upholds ZBA's Decision Granting Zoning Variations

An appellate court recently upheld a zoning board's decision to overturn the zoning administrator's denial of a zoning variance in Glaser v. City of Chicago, 2018 IL App (1st) 171987.

In Chicago, certain zoning variation requests are decided by the zoning administrator. In this case, an owner filed an application for zoning variations with the zoning administrator to allow certain improvements to an existing nonconforming residence. Specifically, the variations would allow the height of the home to extend to 39 feet (the zoning code limits height to 35 feet) and the home to extend into the front, rear, and side setbacks. 

The zoning administrator denied the variations, and the owner appealed to the City's Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The ZBA conducted a hearing and heard evidence from the owner and neighboring residents who opposed the variation requests. At the conclusion of the hearing, the ZBA granted the variations, finding that there were practical difficulties and particular hardships with the owner complying with the zoning code and that existing conditions were not generally applicable to other properties or created by the owner. The ZBA also found that the variations would enhance property values in the area.  

Neighboring residents who had objected to the variations filed a lawsuit challenging the ZBA's decision, and the trial court ruled in favor of the ZBA. On appeal, the appellate court determined that the ZBA's decision granting the variations was appropriate and consistent with the standards for variations in the City's zoning code. The appellate court noted that where there is conflicting evidence and testimony in the record (in this case, the testimony of the owner at the hearing in support of of the variations vs. the testimony of neighboring residents opposing the variations), the ZBA's decision  to approve the variations should be upheld.

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