Lake Bluff’s Village Government is considering zoning changes that may alter the real estate market in Lake Bluff and devalue one of your family’s most valuable assets: your home. The Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals (PCZBA) has discussed the extension of a developer-friendly ordinance, known as the planned mixed-use development ordinance, into a residential zoning district to allow developers to build bigger and denser.
Why does that matter? At a time when surrounding communities (including Lake Forest) are flooding the market with newly constructed condominiums and townhomes, Lake Bluff might also allow developers to also add condos and townhomes, creating more competition in a real estate market that is already less than robust. In addition to increased supply forcing down the value of existing homes, tax code revisions recently enacted by the federal government that establish a $10,000 cap on the state and local tax deduction and reduce the mortgage interest deduction may have an additional negative impact on property values, particularly in locations like ours with exorbitant property taxes.
Some background about the planned mixed-use development ordinance is helpful. During the recent “No 3 on 3” debates, an important discussion regarding the future of our community, there were two principal issues: whether a block-long, three-story condo building was appropriate for our downtown area, and how the zoning code should be changed to allow it.
Although the public successfully opposed the condo building, the Village nevertheless adopted the planned mixed-use development ordinance over the objections of residents. That ordinance gives the Village Government the discretion to allow developers to deviate from the zoning code. When passing that ordinance, the Village Government assured the public that it was only a “tool” for development in the Central Business District.
Things have changed. In September, a proposal was presented to the PCZBA for new townhomes at 15 E. Washington. The discussion regarding that proposal led to a discussion of potential changes to the zoning code for the R-5 zoning district, a swath of the Village that includes the area between Sheridan Road and Oak Avenue north of downtown. Those changes are being considered because the Village Government apparently believes that the existing zoning code does not allow developers to build as big and dense as they would like.
One potential zoning revision discussed by the PCZBA was an extension of the planned mixed-use development ordinance from the Central Business District into the R-5 residential area to allow bigger and denser construction. Even if the Village Government does not extend the planned mixed-use development ordinance into residential neighborhoods, they discussed finding other ways to change the zoning code to allow bigger and denser development.
The PCZBA’s next regularly scheduled meeting is January 17, 2018. Pay attention to their agenda, as well as the agenda for the Village Board (both available at www.lakebluff.org). They may soon begin the decision-making process that could impact all of us.
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