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updated: 6/17/2014 4:04 PM

Buffalo Grove merges zoning, planning boards

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  • Buffalo Grove village trustees this week approved some significant changes in village hall operations, merging the plan commission and zoning board of appeals into one board and streamlining the process to seek approvals for zoning changes and other matters. The changes are part of an effort to make the process simpler for residents and businesses, officials say.

       Buffalo Grove village trustees this week approved some significant changes in village hall operations, merging the plan commission and zoning board of appeals into one board and streamlining the process to seek approvals for zoning changes and other matters. The changes are part of an effort to make the process simpler for residents and businesses, officials say.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer, 2013

 

Buffalo Grove is shrinking its planning and zoning process in hopes of making it easier for businesses and residents.

On Monday, the village board approved the consolidation of the village's Plan Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals into one body, the Planning and Zoning Commission.

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Along with the consolidation, the board also provided more flexibility to the process, allowing some matters to be handled by a zoning administrator rather than the full zoning board. The administrator also will have the authority to approve changes to existing signs, something previously requiring approval of the zoning board.

"We think it's going to be more effective," Village President Jeffrey Braiman said of the consolidation. "First of all, more business friendly, more economical for us, our staff, but also more streamlined. So a developer or even a resident who wants something doesn't have to go to both commissions. They can do it all at one time. More or less like one-stop shopping."

Deputy Village Manager Jennifer Maltas said the flexibility extends to the role of the village board. The new rules provide more discretion for what matters must be referred to the new planning and zoning commission by village trustees.

Trustees will continue to make referrals in matters that require more discussion or direction from the board, such as zoning changes, Maltas said.

The changes approved Monday also eliminate the Appearance Review Team meeting, with the planning and zoning commission now overseeing appearance review. However, Maltas said, the rules allow the convening of the Appearance Review Team for a more complex or larger project.

Braiman on Monday appointed the new commission, stocking it with former plan commission and zoning board members. Among those remaining will be Chairman Eric Smith, Stephen Goldspiel, Mitchell Weinstein, Zill Khan, Joanne Johnson and Matthew Cohn from the plan commission, and Ira Shapiro, Frank Cesario and Scott Lesser from the zoning board.

Braiman thanked members of the former panels who will no longer be serving, especially Bruce Entman, chairman of the zoning board.

"Bruce has been involved on the ZBA for decades, it seems like, as chair," he said. "All their efforts are well respected and appreciated." The village will monitor the results of the new commission over the next six months to a year and make changes as necessary.

"If it's not working out, we can always go back to the other process and fine tune it," Braiman said. "Other villages have tried this and found it to be successful, and hopefully it will be the same (in Buffalo Grove)."

The village board approved one additional consolidation Monday, folding together the Board of Health and the Blood Commission into one panel.

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