Lake Zurich wants to make sweeping changes to its zoning codes, which critics say will take away the Plan Commission’s ability to regulate businesses.
Planning Commissioners began looking at the village’s application to amend the zoning code at its September meeting and is continuing the discussion next month.
The Industrial Zoning Working Group assembled by the village to rework Lake Zurich’s zoning codes is suggesting the changes in an effort to draw more business to the village, specifically to the Lake Zurich Industrial Park.
The park’s vacancy a few years ago was 18 percent. Today, it’s 12 percent_ still higher than the national average of 9 percent, said Joe Heffernan, a member of the working group, real estate broker and longtime resident. “We still have a way to go,” Heffernan said at the September meeting.
Right now, the industrial park is zoned I1 and I2. The designations determine what types of businesses, light industrial and general industrial are allowed on the property and sets forth rules and regulations.
What the working group wants to do is change the zoning into one zone, I, industrial. A single zone would make it simpler for businesses coming into the park, Heffernan said.
The zoning code was written in the 1980s and is outdated.
The working group has spent two years considering the change as a result of efforts to update Lake Zurich’s comprehensive plan.
A big sticking point is a change from what business are permitted and what businesses require a special use.
A long list of businesses that currently would require a special use permit and a review by the Plan Commission could be permitted under the changes, according to testimony.
An example is beverage manufacturers were never permitted nor could those types of businesses get a special use permit. If the amendments are made, beverage manufacturers would be able to open simply by applying for a business license, officials said. Other things that would be allowed are dairy and chemical and allied products.
Another change that would affect the aesthetics is increasing the maximum height of buildings from 35 feet to 60 feet, meaning business could build a five story building or expand existing buildings.
Lake Zurich Industrial Park does not have a lot of land left to develop so businesses need to expand vertically or must relocate out of the village, Heffernan said.
“We don’t want to penalize a business for growing and have them move,” he said at the September meeting.
Other amendments being suggested are to sections dealing with landscaping, parking, accessory uses, variation, special use permits and nonconformities. Landscaping requirements would be reduced as well.
Neighbors have raised concerns about the amendments and question why the working group did not seek input from the public.
Margo Griffin, a Hawthorn Woods resident whose property abuts the industrial park, to think about the community. The change in zoning, alone, would affect the quality of life “as the new relaxed code removes the requirements for businesses to be ‘nuisance free,’” she wrote in a letter to commissioners.
She suggests leaving the I-1 and I-2 areas, with I-1 serving as a buffer between the property and neighbors. Griffin listed other suggestions, including requiring special use permits for certain businesses.
If the commission approves the changes the next steps would be educating the village staff and informing the public through workshops and mailings.
Additionally, the working group would like to extend its work to look at the Route 22 corridor.