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Recent Commercial Zoning Amendments

On February 17, 2015 the Village Council adopted Ordinance MC-2-2015, which adopted a series of comprehensive zoning amendments directed at revitalizing Winnetka’s business districts.    Amendments were directed primarily at modifying the parking requirements and building height limitations of the Village Zoning Ordinance, following their identification for further study by the Urban Land Institute.

Adopted amendments are based on extensive study by the Village’s Business Community Development Commission, Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.

Amendments detailed in Ordinance MC-2-2015 include the following changes:

  1. Increase allowable building height– Increased the allowable building height within the C2 commercial zoning district from the current limit of 2 ½ stories & 35’,  to either 3 stories and 35 feet, or 4 stories and 45 feet based on the location of a property. 
  2. Introduction of new “upper story setback” – In conjunction with the increase in allowable building height, a new provision  requires that buildings with a fourth floor level be designed with an upper story “stepback” which pulls the fourth floor back from the front property line in order maintain a pedestrian scale at the sidewalk.
  3. Elimination of  limits on unit density –  Previous language limiting the number of residential dwelling units (38 or 32 units per acre) has been eliminated.
  4. Elimination of limits on lot coverage  – Previous standards limiting buildings and pavements to 90% of lot area have been eliminated.
  5. Elimination of  limits on “floors used for residential purposes” –  Previous language limited upper floors used of commercial buildings, when for residential purposes, to 60% or 70% of lot area.   Amendments eliminate this standard which was found to be a disincentive toward mixed-use residential redevelopments.
  6. Elimination of “dwelling unit area per occupant” requirements– Eliminates standards governing minimum dwelling unit size, in favor of more detailed standards contained within the Section 404 of the 2009 ICC Property Maintenance Code.
  7. Elimination of “inner court / outer court” requirements – Eliminates standards governing the design of courtyard buildings.  
  8. Parking requirements for downtown residential units-  Revised previous parking requirement of 2 ¼ spaces per downtown dwelling unit, to a standard which is adjusted for the number of bedrooms in each dwelling unit.   One-bedroom units would require 1¼ parking spaces, two-bedroom units would require 1½ spaces, and three-bedroom units would require 2 spaces.
  9. Parking requirements for a change of use of existing buildings– New  language will allow changes of use (e.g., conversion of a second floor apartment to office space, or vice versa) without triggering the requirement for a parking variation.  
  10. Recalibration of amount of parking required for commercial tenants by calculating based on net area, versus gross leased area– Current parking requirements base required parking on the total area occupied by commercial tenants, including storage rooms, mechanical equipment rooms and common elements.  Modified language provides relief by calculating parking requirements based on the “productive use” area, excluding areas such as mechanical rooms, storage rooms, common hallways and the like from the calculation of required parking.
  11. Require parking to be provided for certain larger, new commercial tenant spaces–. New language in Section 17.46.110(C)(4) would require that new tenant spaces larger than 2,500 square feet provide on-site parking for their customers (at a rate of 2 per 1,000 s.f.).
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