[General Information on Zoning Districts, Criteria, etc. is further below after these links.]

>>> REQUEST SUPPORT for a Zoning District Change
>>> About the 47th Ward Zoning APPROVAL PROCESS
>>> List of ward ZONING CASES REVIEWED in last Six Months (includes drawings)
>>> Zoning Board of Appeals/ZBA Agenda for April 19, 2019
>>> Upcoming/Recent Private Construction Projects
.           (including those that did not need aldermanic approval)
>>> Developer’s Acknowledgement of City Regulations (checklist)

>>>Aldermanic Acknowledgement Letter waiving 10-day building permit wait period

>>>Alley Access Letter (ordinance) requests
>>> FACTSHEETS on Zoning & Building Codes
>>> To learn more about zoning districts, zoning criteria, administrative adjustments, variances, special uses and zoning changes, SEE BELOW.


Brief Overview of the Chicago Zoning Ordinance

Zoning is a set of rules that control the use of land—lots, buildings and property development—for the protection and betterment of the city.

The Chicago Zoning Ordinance was passed in 1957 with primary focus on guidelines to protect the value of residential property by preventing the development of undesirable uses. A major revision was made in 2001. The zoning ordinance is both the explanation of the zoning districts (see TEXT) and a continuously updated map of all the zoning districts in the City of Chicago (see MAP). The ordinance is enforced by Department of Housing and Economic Development’s Office of Zoning Ordinance Administration. Four types of zoning “relief” are provided for: 1) administrative adjustments for minor deviations from zoning criteria (such as setbacks), 2) variances for slightly more significant deviations (such as easing of parking requirements), 3) special uses to allow certain uses within a given zoning district (such as liquor stores within a “B3” business district) and 4) changing to different zoning districts when one of the previous reliefs are not able to accommodate a development.

Administrative adjustments are determined by the City’s Office of the Zoning Administrator and don’t normally require aldermanic approval generally taking about two to three months and involving notification to adjacent property owners. However, if there is objection to a project that is brought up to our office (e.g. by next door neighbor) we do get involved and may send a letter of disapproval to the City’s zoning administrator. If an applicant insists on getting a letter of support, we ask for the full set of drawings and run this by the nearby neighbors and block club for any issues before we provide a letter.

The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), an independent body of five members that meets monthly, handles zoning relief requests in the form of variances, special uses and appeals of administrative adjustments. The ZBA does not normally solicit input from aldermen on their various cases. The appeals process generally takes two months and involves notification to nearby property owners.

The zoning district change allows the greatest amount of relief for developments and goes through City Council and the Committee on Zoning. Aldermanic support for the zoning district change in the ward is required. The rezoning process generally takes two months and involves notification to nearby property owners.

Zoning Districts

The Chicago Zoning Ordinance is comprised of the following districts:


Single-Unit Detached House—RS1, RS2, RS3

Accommodates the development of detached houses on individual lots, in areas where the land-use pattern is characterized predominately by detached houses on individual lots or where such a land use pattern is desired in the future.

Permitted uses: Convents and Monasteries, Community Home/Family, Cultural Exhibits and Libraries, Day Care, Parks and Recreation, Fire Station, Religious Assembly, School, Utilities and Services/Minor, Cemetery/Mausoleum/Columbarium, Wireless Comm. Facilities/Co-located, Accessory Uses

Special uses: Community Home/Group, Domestic Violence Residence/Family, Temporary Overnight Shelter, Transitional Residences, Transitional Shelters, Community Centers, Recreation Buildings and Similar Assembly Use, Police Station, Utilities and Services/Major, Cremating, Wireless Comm. Facilities/Freestanding (tower)

Two-Flat, Townhouse, Multi-Unit—RT3.5, RT4

Accommodates detached houses, two- flats, townhouses and low-density, multi-unit residential buildings at a density and building scale that is compatible with RS districts, in areas characterized by a mix of housing types (also intended to provide a gradual transition between RS districts and higher density RM districts).

Permitted uses: Same as RS plus Elderly Housing, Assisted Living, Colleges and Universities, Hospital, Bed and Breakfast, Foreign Consulates, Philanthropic and Eleemosynary Institutions, Parking/non-accessory

Special uses: Same as RS plus Domestic Violence Shelter, Nursing Home, Group Living/other, Lodge or Private Club, Gov’t-operated Health Center

Multi-Unit—RM4.5, RM5, RM5.5, RM6, RM6.5

Accommodates detached houses, two-flats, townhouses and multi-unit residential buildings, with primary emphasis on moderate- to high-density, multi-unit residential buildings in areas where such development already exists or where it is desired in the future.

Permitted uses: Same as RT plus Residential Support Service

Special uses: Same as RT plus Vacation Rental

Business and Commercial

Neighborhood Shopping—B1

Accommodates a broad range of small-scale retail and service uses, residential dwelling units above the ground floor, in compact nodes at the intersection of two or more major streets or in a cohesive linear fashion along relatively narrow streets that have low traffic speeds and volumes (intended to exhibit the physical characteristics of storefront-style shopping streets that are oriented to pedestrian, special designation given for “pedestrian streets”).

Neighborhood Mixed-Use—B2

Adds to B1 district by providing a greater range of development options for those streets where the market demand for retail and service uses is relatively low, allows residential dwelling units on or above the ground floor, in compact nodes at the intersection of two or more major streets or in a cohesive linear fashion along relatively narrow streets that have low traffic speeds and volumes.

Community Shopping—B3

Accommodates a very broad range of retail and service uses, often in the physical form of larger buildings like shopping centers, generally destination-oriented with a larger percentage of customers arriving by automobile, allows dwelling units above the ground floor (intended for large sites that have primary access to major streets).

Neighborhood Commercial—C1

Accommodates a very broad range of small-scale, business, service and commercial uses, especially more intensive, more auto-oriented commercial use types, allows taverns and liquor stores by –right, permits residential dwelling units above the ground floor, in compact nodes, at the intersection of two or more major streets, or in a cohesive linear fashion along streets.

Motor Vehicle-Related Commercial—C2

Accommodates the highest intensity business, service and commercial uses, in large sites that have primary access to major streets.

Commercial, Manufacturing, Employment—C3

Accommodates retail, service, commercial and manufacturing uses, serves as a buffer between M-zoned areas and other B, C and R-zoned areas, does not permit residential dwelling unit.

Possible Uses: Artists Live/Work Space, Elderly Housing, Single-Room Occupancy, Group Living, Colleges and Universities, Cultural Exhibits and Libraries, Day Care, Detention and Correctional Facilities, Hospital, Lodge or Private Club, Parks and Recreation, Postal Service, Public Safety Services, Religious Assembly, School, Utilities and Services, Adult Use, Animal Services, Artist Work or Sales Space, Body Art Services, Building Maintenance Services, Business Equipment Sales and Service, Business Support Services, Day Labor Employment Agency, Employment Agencies, Communication Services Establishments, Construction Sales and Service, Drive-Through Facility, Eating and Drinking Establishments, Entertainment and Spectator Sports, Financial Services, Flea Market, Fortune Telling Service, Funeral and Interment Service, Gas Stations, Lodging (Bed & Breakfast, Hotel/Motel, Vacation Rental), Medical Service, Office, High Technology Office, Electronic Data Storage Center, Parking/non-accessory, Personal Service, Hair Salon, Nail Salon or Barbershop, Massage Establishment, Repair or Laundry Service/Consumer, Dry cleaning drop-of or pick-up, Coin-operated Laundromat, Residential Storage Warehouse, Retail Sales/General, Sports and Recreation/Participant (Outdoor, Indoor, Amusement Arcades, Entertainment Cabaret, Children’s Activities Facility, Hookah Bar, Valuable Objects Dealer, Vehicle Sales and Service, Industrial (Artisan, Limited, General), Recycling Facilities, Warehousing, Wholesaling and Freight Movement, Wireless Comm. Facilities.


Intended to promote high-intensity office and employment growth within the downtown core.


Accommodates low-, moderate- and high-impact manufacturing, warehousing, wholesale and industrial uses outside the Central Area.

Special Purpose

Addresses land use and development issues not easily addressed by R, B, C, D or M district regulations, such as Parks and Open Space (POS), Transportation (T) and Planned Manufacturing Districts (PMD).


Deals with special situations, supplements or accomplishes specific city goals that cannot be easily or efficiently addressed through the use of base districts.

Planned Developments

Required for certain projects to ensure adequate public review, encourage unified planning and development, promote economically beneficial development patterns that are compatible with the character of existing neighborhoods, allow design flexibility, and encourage the protection and conservation of the city’s natural resources.

Zoning Criteria

Each zoning district has minimums and maximums set on various criteria that primarily determine the building’s associated lot, size, number of dwelling units, setbacks, orientation and parking. The main criteria are:

  • Minimum Lot Area—for R districts, the lower the district the larger the minimum set
  • Lot Frontage Minimum—for R districts, set at 25 feet or the predominant lot frontage of similarly zoned lots on the same block face, whichever is greater
  • Minimum Lot Area per Dwelling Unit—for residential developments, the lower the district the great amount of lot area required per unit
  • Maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR)—determines the size of building by limiting their floor area in ratio with the lot size through maximum ratios for different districts (the higher the district, the larger the FAR maximum)
  • Minimum Front Yard Setback—for R districts, the lower the district, the greater the setback
  • Minimum Rear Yard Open Space—for R districts, the lower the district, the greater the open space
  • Minimum Rear Yard Setback—for R districts, the lower the district, the greater the setback
  • Minimum Side Setback—for R districts, the lower the district, the greater the setback
  • Maximum Height—for developments, the higher the district, the greater the height
  • Minimum Parking—the higher the district, the great parking required

>>> Residential Zoning District Criteria

>>> Business & Commercial Zoning Districts Criteria

>>> Allowed Uses in Business & Commercial Zoning Districts

>>> Allowable Encroachments in Setbacks

>>> Chicago Landscape Ordinance

>>> Business Work/Live Space Ordinance

>>> Rebuild Letter

>>> City of Chicago Application for Zoning Amendment (rev. 5-11)

>>> Zoning Board of Appeals Special Use Application (rev. 4-13)

>>> Building Codes for Garage Construction