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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

City of Highland Park Zoning Board of Appeals met November 1

By Kristine Gonzales-Abella | Dec 31, 2018

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City of Highland Park Zoning Board of Appeals met Nov. 1.

Here is the minutes provided by the board:


At 7:32 PM Chair Henry called the meeting to order and asked Planner Burhop to call the roll.

Members Present: Bay, Bina, Chaplik, Cullather, Henry, Putzel

Members Absent: Fettner

Planner Burhop took the roll and declared a quorum present.

Staff Present: Burhop, Davis

Student Rep.: None

Council Liaison: Stolberg


Chair Henry entertained a motion to approve the minutes of the October 4, 2018 meeting. Vice Chair Chaplik so motioned, seconded by Member Cullather. Chair Henry and Member Bina abstained, having not been present at the October 4 Meeting. On a voice vote the Chair declared the motion carried unanimously.





1. #18-10-VAR-027

Property: 175 Linden Park Place, Highland Park, IL 60035

Zoning District R4

Appellant: Brian B. Boorstein & Gail B. Boorstein Address: 175 Linden Park Place, Highland Park, IL 60035

Planning Intern Davis made a presentation including location map, project background, existing and proposed floor plans, photos, neighbor photos, additional notes and requested variation. Planner Burhop made additional comments.

Chair Henry asked if the setback on the part of the building most encroaching was 25.5’ and if what they are proposing to do would be behind that area.

Planner Burhop stated it is additional bulk but it will not encroach more than the existing encroachment.

Member Bay asked if they were within the FAR.

Planner Burhop stated they were well within the allowed FAR.

Member Putzel asked what the difference was between a porch and a portico.

Planner Burhop stated he was not sure but both are structures.

Chair Henry asked if the code defined it.

Planner Burhop stated the Code does define porch and read it aloud. Planner Burhop stated the porch is still a structure and is encroaching.

Mr. Stuart Cohen, Architect, stated a portico is a porch which is specifically used as an entryway added on to the front of a house. He made a presentation including a minor variation to the required front yard setback, property is irregular, house is currently non- conforming, infill would fill in a 2’8” deep recess, adding open canopy over front steps, will add to house, not yielding a reasonable return does not apply, hardship is created by pre-existing siding of the house, inability to add to front of house, hardship was not created by owner, variation will not have impact, proposed variation will have no impact on adjacent property owners, will not be detrimental to public welfare or injurious to other properties in the neighborhood, will not impair air and light, covering the porch and squaring off entry will improve the use and appearance of the hose, character of street will be unchanged, spirit of zoning code is to keep front of house at a common distance from the street and to keep the mass of the front from overwhelming the street, will have no impact on the perception of the distance of the house from the street nor will it increase the perceived bulk, it is in harmony with the intent and spirit of the zoning code.

Chair Henry stated not yielding a reasonable return does apply and it is one of the standards the Board considers.

Member Bina stated they needed evidence that the property cannot will yield a reasonable return but for this. He asked about a sheltered area that affects the front door.

Mr. Cohen stated the plan shows area they are filling in. There is a sheltered space where someone could stand and they have squared this off. They feel it adds value to the house. His client is investing a fair amount of money in redoing parts of the interior and this minor addition is in keeping with improvements of the house.

Member Bina asked if the hardship was to prevent damage to the front door area. He asked if there was water damage.

Mr. Cohen stated it is to create a larger sheltered area and a more spacious entry vestibule.

Member Bina stated there was a hardship with the pre-existing non-conforming plat. He asked if this was a property that could be sold today and if it was a necessary addition in order to sell the property.

Mr. Cohen stated it was a reasonable and minor improvement that would be commensurate with the other improvements to the house. It is not the primary hardship they are asking a variation from. He stated you cannot add to the front of the house.

Vice Chair Chaplik asked if the front was not protected from the elements.

Mr. Cohen stated there is an indentation of about 3’ and to try to stand in that space in the rain is untenable. It was built as a spec house and they are trying to make it a better house for themselves.

Member Bay mentioned the existing entrance and falling over a stair.

Mr. Cohen stated the landing of the stair is about 3’ from where you open front door. When you open the front door it swings just short of the first riser.

Member Bay asked where the stairs lead to.

Mr. Cohen stated the second floor and is the main staircase in the house. The floor plan is terrible.

Member Bina stated he was struggling with this and it makes sense, but he could not support it and felt it did not meet the first element.

Member Putzel thought they met the standards and the struggle is the unique circumstance of not being able to yield a reasonable return. They have seen other cases where people want to add a portico to prevent water damage. This was not stated but she thought she could support the application. She was struggling and the applicant needs to verbalize what the hardship is.

Member Cullather stated he was having the same struggle. They can identify there are unique circumstances with the placement of the house in regard to the setback. This was not created by owner, but by the builder. It will not affect the neighbors. Can the owners get a reasonable return with the addition? He thought the overhang gives the appearance of reducing bulk. If there was potential for water damage and not just convenience it would be easy.

Member Bay stated it was a reasonable request and made sense. Things might need to be shown in order for the variance to be supported. At present he did not think there was enough information and he could not support the application.

Mr. Cohen stated he had read the zoning ordinance and asked if each application needs to meet every one of standards. Now there is nothing to keep snow from accumulating on the existing front steps.

Member Bay stated yes.

Planner Burhop stated Section 150.1204(A) reads “In accord with its jurisdiction as set forth in Article XI of this chapter, the Zoning Board of Appeals, if at all, shall grant or recommend the granting of variations from the regulations of this chapter only in accordance with the standards set forth in Section 150.1205 and then only in the following instances.”

Mr. Cohen stated they meet seven of the standards.

Vice Chair Chaplik stated he understood the members’ concern about the first standard which is a tough one in this circumstance since if it not as if the property cannot be used at all. He thought it met all the other standards and saw a hardship with the lot shape and the siting of the house. The construction predates the current zoning code. The situation cries for approval and this type of variation would be in the spirit and intent of the code. If there was some expression of plight as to first standard he could support the application.

Chair Henry stated he was struggling and the first standard is the most difficult. Could property yield a reasonable return? He thought there were other applications the Board has entertained where the application cried for approval because it made sense in already non-conforming property. It is below the FAR and does not increase the bulk. He thought that it may not meet the exact language of the first standard, it meets the spirit of that standard and he would support the application.

Chair Henry stated there are some options and approval requires four affirmative votes. They can take a vote or afford an opportunity to further address the first standard so the Board has more information. The sentiment is in favor of the application but the members are struggling with the first standard. They can also continue the application to the next meeting to further substantiate the first standard.

Member Cullather asked if the homeowners would like to address the circumstances around the entryway and how they meet the hardship.

Mr. Boorstein, 175 Linden Park Place, Highland Park, IL, Owner, stated he did not know if the additional square footage changes the value of the house. When you are on the outside the way it has been cut in causes a few things depending on the seasons. In summer or spring there is a tremendous amount of spider webs and debris that get caught. Because of where the water collects it ices up in the winter. If they can push this out then the water will not collect there which will make it safer. In the winter there is risk that it constantly ices over and in the summer a lot of things collect in there.

Member Bay stated he did not think they were looking for added economic value. What they were looking for is in the absence of not doing this they would not be able to sell it for a reasonable return on investment.

Mr. Boorstein asked if this was return on investment for pushing it out or the entire house.

Member Bay stated the entire house.

Mr. Cohen asked how this would be demonstrable.

Member Bay stated he did not know if it was proper for them to give advice.

Mr. Boorstein stated where mailbox is and on the other side it is dryvit and it is not a great material and it rots through the back. They want to pull out the old material and replace it with newer material that will not rot over time.

Vice Chair Chaplik asked if it was the original dryvit.

Mr. Boorstein stated that part was there ever since they have owned the house.

Member Putzel asked if they have had water damage.

Mr. Boorstein stated the dryvit is beginning to rot.

Chair Henry stated choice was his and they could call for a vote or they could continue.

Councilman Stolberg asked should the applicant want a vote and it is not in favor is there a waiting period before they can reapply.

Chair Henry stated he did not believe there was a prohibition or waiting period for reapplying. The benefit of a continuance is there no fee.

Mr. Boorstein asked if the idea was to come back and address the standard.

Chair Henry stated they need to address the first standard.

Member Cullather stated he believed the first standard had been met and if they not do something the substance the wall is made of will continue to rot and there will be other issues. He thought justification can be made that if something is not done that a reasonable return cannot be met based on the fact that the porch area is rotting. He thought they had met the standards.

Mr. Boorstein stated he did not know if they would come back with anything more than an in depth study of dryvit and its longevity.

Planner Burhop stated if there is a motion to approve and if the motion fails the application is still ripe for consideration.

Chair Henry stated if it is not approved that does not mean it is denied. Member Putzel stated she agreed with Member Cullather.

Member Cullather motioned to approve the variance as submitted, seconded by Member Putzel.

Planner Burhop called the roll:

Ayes: Putzel, Henry, Chaplik, Cullather

Nays: Bay, Bina

The Chair declared the Motion passed 4-2.

Chair Henry entertained a motion to approve the approval order. Vice Chair Chaplik so motioned, seconded by Member Cullather.

Planner Burhop call the roll:

Ayes: Chaplik, Henry, Cullather, Putzel, Bina

Nays: Bay

The Chair declared the Motion passed 5-1. The variation was approved as requested.

2. Adoption of Zoning Board of Appeals Schedule of Meetings Resolution for 2019 Calendar

Chair Henry stated there are two proposed resolutions, one with a January 3rd date and one without.

Planner Burhop stated this was correct.

Chair Henry stated Jan. 3 was a little soon after January 1st and he preferred the schedule with the first meeting on January 17th. The Board has been sensitive in trying to address applications in a timely manner and did not think it was unreasonable not to have a January 3rd meeting.

Member Putzel asked how many weeks they would be off.

Chair Henry stated they would have to wait for a month.

Vice Chair Chaplik stated he was in in favor of skipping the January 3rd meeting.

Vice Chair Chaplik motioned to approve the resolution without the January 3rd meeting date, seconded by Member Bina. On a voice vote, the Chair declared the motion carried unanimously.


1. Amended Grading and Drainage Memo: Planner Burhop stated the Bldg. Div. Manager, Jorge Torres, stated there was a typo regarding as-builts which was a minor change.

Planner Burhop stated the Board training was scheduled for the December 6th Board meeting and there were no applications for that date as of yet.

Planner Burhop stated there would not be a November 15th meeting, as there was no new business ready for this date.

Member Putzel asked if they needed to arrive earlier for the December 6th meeting. Planner Burhop stated it would start at the normal time.

Chair Henry stated if there is business for December 6th and the training they should look at reposting it in case they want to start a little early.

Planner Burhop stated he should know within the week.

Chair Henry stated it should be within enough time to properly post it. Vice Chair Chaplik asked if it was an open meeting.

Chair Henry stated it was.


1. Discussion on Curfew and Application Limit

Chair Henry stated the guidelines are reasonable and give the public knowledge of what they are looking at. Applicants can request a continuance, it is not automatically granted. He was bothered by materials submitted late or not submitted are unlikely to be fully reviewed at the hearing. He did not know if that was true and the Board works very hard at reviewing everything that comes before them. He was concerned and would not want to say that. Their duty is to consider all material presented to them. He did not have a problem with the last sentence that states “care should be taken with the timing of all submissions.” He did not think it was something they want to put out there. They work very hard at considering everything put before them.

Vice Chair Chaplik asked if he meant the first or second sentence.

Chair Chaplik stated the first two sentences. He stated the only sentence he would leave would be the last one.

Member Cullather stated he would consider adding something to the effect that documents submitted late or the day of may be cause for the Board to continue.

Chair Henry stated that made sense and if they were inundated with a lot material the day of the hearing they may say need more time to consider.

Member Putzel stated it is more efficient when people present material ahead of time.

Member Bina stated he would review materials submitted late and they could say they may or may not be fully reviewed. These are guidelines and are not binding and they want to make people aware that they want to get the information as early as possible.

Chair Henry stated they could add material that is presented at a meeting may require a continuance.

Councilman Stolberg stated they could adjust the second sentence so it is not inferred it will not be.

Chair Henry stated the sentiment is along the lines they should get it in ahead of time but if you do not they will still look at it and it may be continued. To say is it unlikely to be reviewed by the Board is not something they want to put out there. Their decisions are also reviewable by the Circuit Court.

Member Bay stated in the sentence recommended to be deleted he used “may not.” He agreed it can be improved. He had in mind it might be a case where it might be physically impossible just by the sheer volume of materials submitted.

Chair Henry stated if it were impossible to review it would be continued. It is a wiser decision to continue rather than penalize an applicant or an objector.

Chair Henry stated he and Member Bina had not discussed curfew for Board meetings and it is a tough issue and he did not know if there was an answer. He stated it was not an action item for tonight and they all seemed to be in agreement.

Chair Henry asked Member Bay if he wanted to rework the last paragraph. Member Bay stated he would do so.

Chair Henry stated they could leave it as a discussion item until Corporate Counsel is here and they can answer any questions. They do not have to pass by resolution and it can be published on the website. Before they act they can pose any questions to Corporate Counsel.

2. Planner Burhop stated he would keep it as a keep as discussion item. Discussion on Continuance Guidelines


Chair Henry entertained a motioned to adjourn. Vice Chair Chaplik so motioned, seconded by Member Cullather. On a voice vote, the Chair declared the motion passed unanimously.

The Zoning Board of Appeals adjourned at 8:35 PM.

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City of Highland Park Zoning Board of Appeals