Naperville working on 'user-friendly' update of land-use plan
Some sections of the planning document that informs developers about the intended use of sites in Naperville dates to the 1980s, so city officials say it's time for an update.
The city is hosting an open house at 6 p.m. Monday in the municipal center at 400 S. Eagle St. to gather input about a draft of its new comprehensive land-use plan, which is being developed under a $125,000 contract with consultant Houseal Lavigne Associates.
The plan aims to address trends in housing and commercial development and to give direction on potential uses for 10 areas where the city has received inquiries about ideas that don't match with existing plans or zoning.
"We have to take a current look at where the city is, how it's developing, then start to re-imagine how these sites will look in another 20 years," Mayor Steve Chirico said.
The document, once completed and approved, intends to be the single source for land-use planning everywhere in Naperville other than the downtown, the North Central College campus and the 5th Avenue area, all of which are addressed under separate plans. It will incorporate and update recommendations made in previous plans from the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s for the northwest, southwest and east sectors of town as well as specific corridors.
While some municipalities' comprehensive plans are 300 pages or longer, Naperville's draft checks in at 89 and aims to be clear and concise, said Allison Laff, deputy director of transportation, engineering and development
"We're hoping to make the final product much more user-friendly," she said.
Guiding the recommendations within the plan are five principles that aim to:
• Ensure housing is diverse and accessible to everyone;
• Reinforce the vitality of shopping areas;
• Foster a diverse mix of businesses and employers;
• Incorporate sustainable best practices for a healthy community;
• And coordinate with partner agencies to provide access to schools, parks and services.
The plan takes each area of the city and gives it a future "place type" designation, which Laff said is a broader, more flexible category than a typical zoning designation. All residential areas, for example, are classified under the "residential neighborhood" place type, instead of under separate categories for low-, medium- or high-density housing.
The plan identifies housing gaps in options for seniors, entry-level workforce employees and people who need low-cost options, Laff said. It also shows ways to address those gaps, such as allowing the development of tiny homes, micro-apartments or houses on small lots and allowing multigenerational or rental housing within "accessory" structures on homeowners' properties.
The plan does not automatically make these ideas permissible or automatically change the zoning of any site in the city.
"It's making the recommendation that those things should be considered in future development," Laff said.
Aside from residential areas, other commercial, office and industrial properties fit into categories such as city corridors, neighborhood centers, urban centers, regional centers or employment centers, depending on their purpose and the distance from which they draw visitors.
Officials say these classifications could allow for creative ideas that may mix the types of uses on one site, especially on outdated strip mall properties that need revitalization, such as Ogden Mall and Iroquois Center on Ogden Avenue near Naper Boulevard. That site received a major boost Friday when the city announced Costco would open a store in the area that includes a long-dormant Kmart.
"Modern business districts look very, very different than they did 40 years ago," Chirico said. "Those types of blended uses complement each other and help support each other. They create their own little economic ecosystem."
After the open house Monday, Laff said, the planning and zoning commission will review the draft of the comprehensive land-use plan, likely at its March 4 meeting. The city council then will review the plan before final approval.
To submit comments, email Community Planner Sara Kopinski at firstname.lastname@example.org before Monday, Feb. 17.