Community meeting details Planned Development amendment
More than 100 residents attended a community meeting on Oct. 6 to discuss the University’s application for an amendment to its Planned Development, a city zoning document.
Institutional Planned Development 43, or PD43, governs how the University uses its land, and what uses and densities are permitted. It guides development, though it does not exempt the landowner from other municipal processes required for development.
The Oct. 6 meeting was the second of two sessions hosted by the University to explain the process to neighbors and detail the specific amendments the University is seeking as part of one of its periodic updates to the document.
Alicia Murasaki, executive director of Planning and Design for Facilities Services, said the University is proposing to add 16 new parcels to PD43. She added that the PD amendment is necessary for the University to move ahead with projects that are currently in planning such as the Child Care West (5610 S. Drexel Ave.), William Eckhardt Research Center (5640 S. Ellis Ave.) and the relocation of the Seminary Co-op Bookstore into McGiffert Hall (at 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave.).
“We’re not asking for more site coverage,” said Murasaki. “We’re shifting site coverage from one area to another. Also, we are proposing to add site plans for the William Eckhardt Research Center, the Child Care West facility and bookstore to the PD.”
Ellen Sahli, director for the Office of Civic Engagement, said the University plans to file its proposed amendment to PD43 in the next few weeks. Community members have an opportunity to weigh in through the City’s review and approval process, which could take four to six months.
“When we file our application for the PD amendment, property owners within 250 feet of the PD boundaries will be notified of our filing. They will again be notified of the Plan Commission hearing date,” she said. “We’re at the very beginning of the City process."
Sahli said from time to time it is necessary for the University to amend the PD to reflect the changing landscape of the campus and is seeking community input.
“In the last year, we have acquired a number of properties that make it an efficient time to do the amendment.”
Sahli said she has met with several residents and community groups during the last several weeks to clarify questions regarding the proposed amendments to PD43.
She said several residents have asked about the University’s construction projects along 53rd Street, Garfield Avenue or Stony Island and the relationship to the PD. Sahli said that PD43 does not include any of the University’s land on those streets.
“We need to own the land in order to include it in the PD,” she said. “We cannot include a private individual’s land in our PD. Also, the land must be contiguous or connected by a right of way, such as a street, in order to be included.”
Other questions included how the PD amendment will impact properties along Woodlawn Avenue. Sahli said the University is committed to respecting the character of buildings along Woodlawn and University avenues and has proposed added language in the PD to outline this commitment in response to concerns from the community.
She also added that the proposed amendment does not seek to add taller buildings to Woodlawn Avenue than is currently allowed.
“We will continue to engage and keep you in the loop of information,” said Sahli. The University also agreed to convene another meeting before the Plan Commission meeting date to provide an update on the proposed amendments.
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