The Naperville Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval for a revised version of the city’s Land Use Master Plan Wednesday.
A previous version of the plan had been denied by the commission in March 2020, mainly because of concerns with the grouping of all housing types into one residential zone category.
“In 2020, the residential areas were all one category,” Naperville Transportation, Engineering, and Development Services Department Operations Manager Amy Emery said. “Everything was just colored yellow. And there was a lot of concern, kind of to your point, you know, ‘what does this mean in different existing neighborhoods of the city?’”
The process was then derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it wasn’t until January 5, 2021, that city staff took the commission’s concerns to city council for review.
New Land Use Master Plan Details
“In this version of the document, based on the direction from Council, you’ve got the low, medium, and high designations, which provides further clarity for addressing some concerns like that, about density coming into an area and really changing significantly the existing character of it,” Emery said.
The new residential subcategories include low-density single-family homes and duplexes, medium-density single-family attached homes and townhomes, and high-density multi-family residential structures like apartments.
The new plan also reduces the number of key sites listed for potential redevelopment compared to the previous plan, due to project approvals and construction since the original plan’s creation.
Some PZC Critiques
Planning and Zoning Commissioner Bruce Hanson applauded city staff’s work to revise the plan but raised some concerns with the use of accessory dwelling units and tiny houses in neighborhoods.
“If a neighborhood is going to be allowed to change because of this new master plan, I think that the individual neighbors that are close by should have their voice heard. That’s why I like the variance process or the conditional use in this context,” Hanson said.
Hanson said community members should also have a say in proposed developments that would change the density categorization of their neighborhood.
Features unchanged from the original plan include its guiding principles, the inclusion of mixed-use areas that would combine housing and commercial uses, and the ability to amend zoning in the future to address market trends and housing needs.
The plan didn’t come without some critique from residents. Naperville resident Marilyn Schweitzer, who said she had spoken to the commission on the plan back in 2020, offered some concerns to improve the new plan’s clarity.
“A casual reader should not be left with the intention that all private open space should be developed into something other than open space. And I think this should be remedied through wording or visuals such as hatching private open space on the current and future map,” Schweitzer said.
Emery assured city staff would review Schweitzer’s comments and make some clarity-based revisions before sending the plan to Council. She noted referencing the 2031 Riverwalk plan in the document, and the clarification that parks and open spaces are acceptable in all districts, as two likely improvements.
Now that the Planning and Zoning Commission has approve the plan, City Council will review the recommendation and vote on whether to give final approval.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Flanagan reports.
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