Business as usual
On December 13, 2011, the Chicago Committee on Zoning conducted a public hearing regarding removing the “pedestrian street” designation for the portion of Milwaukee Avenue between Kedzie and Sawyer Avenues. This despite the fact that the applicant (in this case the alderman/the city) did not meet (as acknowledged by the acting city Zoning Administrator) the notice requirements necessary for the hearing to take place.
According to the Chicago Zoning Ordinance, Section 17-13-0100:
No hearing will be scheduled or conducted until the applicant complies with all applicable notice requirements.
As the applicant, the alderman explained that he introduced the ordinances in order to allow the McDonald’s franchise at 2707 N. Milwaukee Avenue to construct a new building and maintain its driveway and drive-through. He stated that the dimensions and diameters of the existing driveway and drive-through would not change. He also said that he would later re-designate Milwaukee Avenue a “pedestrian street.”
The McDonald’s franchise owner and her attorney were the only people to speak in favor of the proposal. Contrary to the alderman’s statement, they (and the acting city Zoning Administrator as well) revealed that they planned to increase the drive-through capacity at this site. Oddly, the owner touted another McDonald’s franchise she owns on four-lane North Avenue at the busy, car-centric intersection of Grand and Kostner Avenues as an example of how nice it will be for Milwaukee Avenue. She really wasn’t grasping the concept of a pedestrian oriented street.
As is typical of zoning in Chicago, the Committee on Zoning deferred to the alderman’s desire and unanimously passed the ordinances. The next day, City Council also deferred to the alderman’s desire and unanimously passed the two ordinances. That section of Milwaukee Avenue no longer has the pedestrian designation.
Now, as before, a drive-through still remains as a “special use” permitted at the site.
After the Zoning Committee meeting, the attorney for the McDonald’s franchise stated that the franchise plans to hold a community meeting about its next application.
Once McDonald’s voluntarily tears down its building, its special use for a drive-through is null. It must again apply to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a special use for a drive-through.
The Zoning Board of Appeals–a different body than the Zoning Committee–must also hold a hearing on the special use application. I expect business as usual at the Zoning Board of Appeals as well, but the Board can place conditions on its approval of the drive-through, for example dictating the layout of the site or location of the building. The Board’s decision is final. The matter does not have to go before City Council.