WBEZ | Zoning Board of Appeals http://www.wbez.org/tags/zoning-board-appeals Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en DuPage abandons proposed ban on assembly groups http://www.wbez.org/story/amy-lawless/dupage-abandons-proposed-ban-assembly-groups <p><p>&nbsp;DuPage County has abandoned a bid to keep new places of assembly out of unincorporated residential neighborhoods.&nbsp;That's a major concession to those who feared new churches, mosques, and temples would be frozen out of the very communities they aim to serve. Instead, the county will look at specific measures to target the problems they've had with those gathering places, such as traffic congestion, water drainage and sewage capacity.</p> <div>The county has sought changes to its zoning ordinance because officials say some areas lack infrastructure to support heavily-used gathering places. But County Development Committee Chairman Tony Michelassi said it became clear that many DuPage religious organizations thought the proposed blanket ban was too severe. That&rsquo;s why the committee told county staff on Tuesday to return to the drawing board and come back with alternative options at the committee&rsquo;s March 1 meeting.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a sentiment among many [DuPage County] Board members that we&rsquo;re close to reaching a solution here that&rsquo;s equitable,&rdquo; said Michelassi.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The county's new approach is encouraging to the religious groups that make up the umbrella organization DuPage United. Amy Lawless, the group&rsquo;s Lead Organizer, said up until now, they felt completely cut off from the county&rsquo;s consideration of the matter. &ldquo;We went from no negotiation to some negotiation on restrictions so they don't lump everyone in one situation,&rdquo; said Lawless.&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 24 Feb 2011 01:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/amy-lawless/dupage-abandons-proposed-ban-assembly-groups Du Page mosque plan moves forward http://www.wbez.org/story/america/du-page-mosque-plan-moves-forward <p><p>Despite a blow last month in their bid for zoning to build a new mosque, a group of Muslims in DuPage County got a green-light today to finally bring their bid before the full county board. The County&rsquo;s Development Committee voted 5-1 to approve both the plan by The Muslim Educational Cultural Center of America, or MECCA, to build a religious place of worship on the five-acre, unincorporated plot, as well as the construction of a dome and minaret.</p> <div>MECCA leaders were baffled last month when some members of the Zoning Board of Appeals denied approval for the project on the grounds of &quot;religious oversaturation&quot; in that part of the county.&nbsp;But Mark Daniel, an attorney representing the group, said that argument didn't come up with the Development Committee. &ldquo;County board members that are on the committee really focused on the relevant issues of code compliance and is this a religious use that is going to cause harm that's specific to the property, and they believed that it was not,&rdquo; said Daniel.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The county board is expected to consider the proposal within the next two weeks.</div></p> Tue, 01 Feb 2011 23:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/america/du-page-mosque-plan-moves-forward DuPage zoning board rejects mosque proposal http://www.wbez.org/story/dupage-county/dupage-zoning-board-rejects-mosque-proposal <p><div>DuPage County's zoning board has denied a second Muslim group its approval to build a mosque in as many months. The Muslim Educational Cultural Center of America, or MECCA, wants to tear down a house on five acres of unincorporated DuPage County, and build a new structure for worship.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Center&rsquo;s bid failed 5-2. Zoning board members in the majority said they were concerned about having too many religious institutions in that part of the county. &nbsp;&ldquo;I just haven't seen it in 16 years of practice, where oversaturation has become an issue,&rdquo; said Mark Daniel, attorney representing MECCA. &ldquo;It's almost as if there's a suspension of the zoning ordinance for an application, which is something that you really can't have in these processes.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>While MECCA members say they are baffled by the board&rsquo;s decision, they haven&rsquo;t given up hope on the project. The proposal still goes to the county&rsquo;s Development Committee next month. The committee could either take or reject the zoning board&rsquo;s recommendation.</div> <p>In December, the DuPage County&rsquo;s zoning board denied approval for another group, the Islamic Center of the Western Suburbs.&nbsp;That group wants to convert a house near West Chicago into a mosque.&nbsp;At the same time, DuPage County is also considering a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/dupage-zoning-proposal-land-use-or-islamophobia">controversial amendment</a> to its zoning ordinance which would ban all new places of assembly &ndash; including religious institutions -- from unincorporated residential parts of the county.&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 14 Jan 2011 22:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/dupage-county/dupage-zoning-board-rejects-mosque-proposal Shared kitchen wins battle against Chicago red tape http://www.wbez.org/story/bakers/shared-kitchen-wins-battle-against-chicago-red-tape <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Zina_Murray.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A small-business incubator has won a round in a long fight against Chicago red tape.</p><p>Over the last six years, at least three shared kitchens have opened in Chicago. They&rsquo;re for caterers, bakers, confectioners and others who can&rsquo;t afford their own facilities.<br /><br />The City of Chicago still does not recognize the kitchens' business model. That has lead to more health inspections and licensing hassles.<br /><br />&ldquo;When you get these extra regulatory burdens, it&rsquo;s almost like people are throwing a refrigerator on your back and asking you to keep running,&rdquo; says Zina Murray, who opened Logan Square Kitchen in a vacant storefront last year.<br /><br />The city wanted to classify Murray&rsquo;s business as a banquet hall, a designation that would have required her to provide parking.<br /><br />So Murray brought the classification to the city&rsquo;s Zoning Board of Appeals. The board told us this week that it&rsquo;s siding with her.<br /><br />Murray&rsquo;s next struggle is to open, and properly license, an event space to go with the shared kitchen. &ldquo;We need businesses like this to help our economy recover,&rdquo; she says.<br /><br />Chicago zoning officials did not immediately return our calls for comment about the ruling.</p></p> Fri, 26 Nov 2010 02:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/bakers/shared-kitchen-wins-battle-against-chicago-red-tape City Hall pushes mayoral hopeful to resign from panel http://www.wbez.org/story/news/city-hall-pushes-mayoral-hopeful-resign-panel <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/De_Jesus.png" alt="" /><p><p>Mayor Richard Daley&rsquo;s administration is asking a Chicago mayoral contender to step down from a city zoning panel. <br /><br />Daley spokeswoman Jackie Heard says Rev. Wilfredo De Jesús&rsquo;s campaign could raise questions about his impartiality as one of five members of the city&rsquo;s Zoning Board of Appeals. &ldquo;What if a political opponent of his had business before the board?&rdquo; Heard asks.<br /><br />But De Jesús says he won&rsquo;t resign unless he wins the mayoral election: &ldquo;If I&rsquo;m not breaking any laws and there are no rules being broken, I&rsquo;m not stepping down.&rdquo;<br /><br />De Jesús says he learned that the Daley administration wanted him off the board about two weeks ago, when he got a call from Joan Coogan, director of the city&rsquo;s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. &ldquo;She said, &lsquo;The mayor would like you to step down,&rsquo; &rdquo; the pastor recalls. &ldquo;Immediately what I thought was that the mayor doesn&rsquo;t want to give the perception that he&rsquo;s endorsing me.&rdquo;<br /><br />De Jesús heads a large Humboldt Park congregation called New Life Covenant. Daley appointed him to the zoning panel in 2007. The post adds weight to De Jesús&rsquo;s claim that he&rsquo;s a competent administrator, not just a charismatic preacher.<br /><br />The pastor has made his presence known in other parts of city government. In 2008, De Jesús led some clergy members who helped derail a planned city high school for LGBT students. Last year, De Jesús organized a group of ministers and aldermen who demanded more Latinos in top police posts.<br /><br />Later in 2009, Billy Ocasio stepped down as 26th Ward alderman and pushed Daley to put De Jesús in that seat. Daley rejected the pastor, despite the mayor&rsquo;s tradition of following an outgoing alderman&rsquo;s successor recommendation.<br /><br />De Jesús criticized Daley when announcing his mayoral bid last month. The pastor called Daley&rsquo;s parking-meter privatization &ldquo;a poor decision&rdquo; for Chicago businesses and residents.<br /><br />&ldquo;People have taken our voice and our vote for granted,&rdquo; De Jesús told a rally of some 400 mostly religious supporters at the Humboldt Park boathouse. &ldquo;For far too long, the city of Chicago has not wanted to hear us. But today there&rsquo;s a new wind coming from every corner of the city of Chicago--coming from heaven.&rdquo;<br /><br />The pastor wouldn&rsquo;t be the first member of a city board to step down to focus on running for mayor. Lawyer Gery Chico resigned as City Colleges chairman last month. Spokeswomen for both Chico and Daley say the candidate arrived at the decision without any urging from the mayor.</p></p> Fri, 12 Nov 2010 23:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/city-hall-pushes-mayoral-hopeful-resign-panel Pentecostal pastor to enter Chicago mayoral race http://www.wbez.org/story/26th-ward/pentecostal-pastor-enter-chicago-mayoral-race <p><p>A Pentecostal leader with controversial views about homosexuality is jumping into Chicago&rsquo;s mayoral race. Rev. Wilfredo De Jesús, senior pastor of <a href="http://www.mynewlife.org/">New Life Covenant Church</a> in Humboldt Park, is planning to announce his candidacy Thursday at the park&rsquo;s boathouse. <br /><br />De Jesús, whose nickname is Choco, has a firm launching pad. New Life Covenant is one of the world&rsquo;s largest <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assemblies_of_God">Assemblies of God</a> congregations. His team packs thousands of worshipers into the Roberto Clemente High School auditorium during six weekly services there. The church also runs dozens of social programs, reaching out to everyone from prostitutes to gang members, homeless people to prisoners.<br /><br />De Jesús&rsquo;s mayoral bid is beginning with efforts to extend his support to other evangelical churches, sources near the campaign tell me. He&rsquo;s reaching out to pastors like Daniel Hill of <a href="http://www.churchwebsites.com/rivercity/index.cfm?page=6">River City Community Church</a>, another Humboldt Park congregation. Hill promoted De Jesús&rsquo;s campaign from the pulpit at River City&rsquo;s main service yesterday.<br /><br />De Jesús supporters have also quietly begun to collect signatures to get him on the February ballot, sources say.<br /><br />What De Jesús isn&rsquo;t doing&mdash;at least yet&mdash;is trying to push into the Democratic organizations of heavily Latino wards and districts, where he&rsquo;d potentially compete head on against three other North Siders eyeing the mayor&rsquo;s office: former Chicago Ald. Manny Flores, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez and City Clerk Miguel del Valle.<br /><br />Winning over African American religious voters could also be an uphill battle. De Jesús worked for Barack Obama&rsquo;s campaign in 2008, but State Sen. James Meeks says he&rsquo;s planning to enter the mayor&rsquo;s race. Meeks is senior pastor of Salem Baptist, a black megachurch on the South Side.<br /><br />De Jesús&rsquo;s church is not his only source of clout. He&rsquo;s a commissioner on the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals. And his campaign already has an influential adviser, former Ald. Billy Ocasio, who left his 26th Ward seat last year to work for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.<br /><br />Ocasio, a New Life Covenant member, <a href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=34542">pushed for De Jesús to be his City Council replacement</a>. But Mayor Richard Daley took the unusual step of rejecting an outgoing alderman&rsquo;s successor recommendation after gay leaders raised a ruckus. They were upset with De Jesús for leading a group of clergy members in a 2008 effort that helped derail a planned Chicago high school for queer students. De Jesús last year tried to explain to me why he opposed the planned school: &ldquo;I felt that it was a form of segregation.&rdquo;<br /><br />Gay leaders also voiced concerns about De Jesús&rsquo;s links to the Assemblies of God, a fellowship that considers homosexuality a sin. The pastor once told me the tenet stems from the bible. &ldquo;I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,&rdquo; he said. De Jesús wasn&rsquo;t immediately available to comment for this report.</p></p> Mon, 04 Oct 2010 11:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/26th-ward/pentecostal-pastor-enter-chicago-mayoral-race