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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

City of Highland Park Zoning Board of Appeals met November 7

By Kristine Gonzales-Abella | Jan 9, 2020

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City of Highland Park Zoning Board of Appeals met Nov. 7.

Here is the minutes provided by the board:


At 7:30 PM Chair Chaplik called the meeting to order and asked Planner Burhop to call the roll.

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

Members Absent: Bina

Planner Burhop took the roll and declared a quorum present.

Staff Present: Burhop

Student Rep.: None

Council Liaison: None


1. October 10, 2019

Chair Chaplik entertained a motion to approve the minutes of the October 10, 2019 meeting. Vice Chair Cullather so motioned, seconded by Member Fettner. Member Bay abstained. On a voice vote, the Chair declared the motion carried unanimously.





1. #19-10-VAR-022

Property: 1384 Linden Ave., Highland Park, IL 60035

Zoning District R5

Appellant: Jennifer Freeman

Address: 1384 Linden Ave., Highland Park, IL 60035

Planner Burhop made a presentation for the above including site location, project background, Compere Rule, existing conditions, proposed site plan, street view, photos, site plan, south and east elevations, topography, zoning analysis and relief requested.

Member Henry asked if there was an indication that there was ever a previous request for height relief.

Planner Burhop stated no. The last addition was in 1982 and it was still zoned R5 then.

Member Putzel asked the difference in height between the main rooms on the first floor and the third floor attic.

Mr. Barry Weinstein, Architect, stated the third floor attic is literally an attic with sloped ceilings.

Member Putzel asked if that was with the 35’ proposal.

Mr. Weinstein stated it allows the roof as drawn in feet and the house is tall and instead of making the roof flat they want to do the addition to match the existing home.

Member Fettner asked if Mr. Weinstein could speak as to why it makes sense aesthetically and if there were any issues with a flat roof.

Mr. Weinstein stated the issue is they are trying to save old housing stock and the house is 116 years old and if they tore it down they would have to comply with the 32’. They want to save the house and bring it up to date.

Member Fettner stated he did a lot of historic homes and if it was historically significant he would not have a flat roof.

Chair Chaplik asked if there were other alternates they might have considered for which they would not need the variance.

Mr. Weinstein stated no because the top floor is short as it is even with allowing the peaked ceiling. They are going to flatten it out on the inside. The first floor is 9’ and the second is 8.5’ and the third floor is already short. They need the extra bedroom which was the impetus of the addition.

Chair Chaplik asked if lowering the ceiling of each floor is possible.

Ms. Jennifer Freeman, Applicant, stated they are at $480,000 for this renovation. She stated she should have knocked it down and built a giant house like her neighbor. They are at 4.5’ above grade.

Mr. Weinstein stated another problem with lowering the floors is that means with the second floor you have to walk down steps.

Chair Chaplik stated it was not a practical alternate.

Ms. Freeman stated they fell in love with the house and they are the third owners. There is a lot of emotion attached to the house. The previous owner did not sell it to the first two parties who made offers because they were going to tear it down. They want to give it new life and it needs to look the way it should. If they put a flat roof on it will look weird. It is not that big of a house for the lot and they have a pool and everyone comes to the house. They have a lot of work to do. They want it to look like it is supposed to and want to stay true to the nature of it. It will look more period applicable than it would have after they re-did some things in the 1980s. They are happy with the look for how it is supposed to be for Highland Park and altering the roof is not going to give them the look they need.

Vice Chair Cullather asked if they had spoken with the neighbors.

Ms. Freeman stated they had and are friends with all the neighbors. The part where they are adding on is in the middle of the property. The house will look better from the street with this configuration. It is not going to take over the lot, will not block any light and will remain historically appropriate.

Member Bay stated in keeping with the spirit of transparency and full disclosure, he knows Mr. Weinstein and they have done a few projects together. He did not think this would affect his ability to make a finding on this request. He thought it was a straight forward request and had reviewed the standards and answers as presented in the package and thought it was the only way to proceed and would support the application.

Member Putzel agreed and was curious about the small amount with the peak and the yield of return. It is already a low roof and she thought they would not be able to yield a reasonable return if they do not do the addition in that respect. She wanted to hear what the other members had to say, but was inclined to support the application.

Member Fettner stated he was in favor of the variation. He thought from a common sense standpoint, this aesthetic makes sense. When you consider the standards he thought the hardship was an existing non-conforming structure. They are building this below what the existing house is at. When you want to utilize the space up there it is pointless to build the addition and have it at 32’ and not have useable head height. If they did a flat roof they would ruin the streetscape and no one wants a flat roof anyway. He would support the application.

Member Henry stated he reached the same conclusion as the other members. He thought it was more of an aesthetic thing and it barely meets the standards. It does not make much sense when the house is already non-conforming, to do something that will make it look like a Rube Goldberg structure. It marginally meets the standards but it does not make sense to do it any other way. He would support the application.

Vice Chair Cullather stated he agreed with the other members and thought this is the way to go and the other alternates are not feasible. He would support the application.

Chair Chaplik stated he agreed with Member Henry that the standards are not really designed for a request like this which is reasonable and makes sense. The standards are not ideally suited for this. He agreed it meets the standards and would support the application.

Chair Chaplik entertained a motion to approve. Member Fettner motioned to direct staff to prepare findings of fact and approval order approving the variance as requested. Member Henry seconded.

Planner Burhop called the roll:

Ayes: Bay, Putzel, Henry, Fettner, Cullather, Chaplik Nays: None

The Chair declared the Motion passed 6-0.

Chair Chaplik entertained a motion to approve the approval order. Member Henry motioned that the variance approval order submitted in draft in the packet be adopted. Member Fettner seconded.

Planner Burhop called the roll:

Ayes: Bay, Putzel, Henry, Fettner, Cullather, Chaplik Nays: None

The Chair declared the Motion passed 6-0.


A. Update on Article 19 Steep Slope Zone Text Amendment

Planner Burhop stated the Plan and Design Commission recommended denial of the changes and adopted findings of fact denying the proposed changes and it will go to Council. When he knows the date he will advise the Board.

Vice Chair Cullather stated it was an interesting meeting. He was wondering how he would describe Member Henry and the word vigorous came to mind. The PDC then moved into a discussion of a pot dispensary.

Chair Chaplik asked if there was much discussion about the SSZ.

Vice Chair Cullather stated they agreed with the Board and SAG about the SSZ and did not like the recommendation and believed that the input from SAG was valuable.

Chair Chaplik asked if there were any other speakers for or against. Vice Chair Cullather stated it was just a staff presentation.

Planner Burhop stated there were two public hearings and only Staff and Vice Chair Cullather spoke about the amendment, other than PDC members.

Planner Burhop stated there are two applications slated for November 21st, two for December 5th and one for December 19th, though the deadline for the 19th is still open.

Chair Chaplik asked if anyone had been named to replace Member Fettner.



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

The Zoning Board of Appeals adjourned at 8:00 PM.

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City of Highland Park Zoning Board of Appeals