In its pursuit of new development in key points of the village, Brookfield officials publicly rolled out their plan to rewrite the zoning code for areas surrounding its three commuter rail stops along the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad line.

The code, which is only a draft and likely will see some revisions as the public, commercial property owners and developers weigh in, seeks to attract the developments and buildings that Brookfield desires and to avoid developments that conform to a traditional zoning code but aren’t in keeping with the village’s vision for those areas.

“The goal of having this particular ordinance in place is to make sure that the rules that are set up for anyone coming in to do this type of work match what the community wants,” Village Manager Keith Sbiral told about 50 residents who attended a town hall meeting on the zoning code revision at the Brookfield Village Hall on July 12. 

“The whole point here is to make sure the code we have on the books and the plan you have on the books is the will of the community.”

The 2020 Master Plan, adopted by the village board in 2004, served as a policy guide for the new code, said Sbiral.

“A lot of this was driven by the remaining recommendations in the 2020 Master Plan yet to be implemented,” Sbiral said. 

A summary draft version of what’s being called the Station Area Districts zoning code can be found on the village of Brookfield’s website here.

The full draft code can be found accompanying this story, below.

The public will have an opportunity to obtain information and comment on the proposed code at another town hall scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 2 at 6:30 p.m.

Residents can provide for-the-record input on the proposed code at a Planning and Zoning Commission hearing that tentatively has been scheduled for Aug. 25. The Brookfield Village Board could act to adopt a revised station area zoning code sometime in September.

Described as a “form-based” code, the Station Area Districts document attempts to take the guesswork out of developing property near the commuter rail stations and provide a streamlined approval process that can be handled entirely by the village’s planning staff and village manager.

“We want to match good development with the goals and desires of the community,” Sbiral said in a separate interview. “This streamlines the process and says, ‘This is what we want in the community.'”

The framework provided by the new code essentially lays out what developers need  to gain approval for developments. Anything falling outside of that framework would be subjected to public review, but by staying within the framework ought to assist developers in moving ahead with projects.

“We’re trying to match good development with the goals and desires of the community,” Sbiral said.

Unlike a traditional zoning code that sets out limits for things such as height, setbacks and lot coverage, the Station Area Districts code spells out in some detail the types of buildings that the village will allow within a certain district, building materials and design standards, including signage, streetscape and landscape requirements.

The new code also incorporates the kinds of building size and bulk limitations seen in traditional zoning codes, and it also updates the use tables of each area, providing clear direction on the types of businesses the village seeks to encourage in each district. 

For example, in the Grand/Prairie commercial district, the code encourages mixed-use commercial/residential developments of up to six stories that would attract retail businesses, restaurants and bars. It discourages uses such as auto repair businesses and seeks to relegate office uses to the rear of first-floor spaces and upper floors.

The blocks flanking the Hollywood train platform would allow one- to three-story, pedestrian-oriented buildings that would allow retail, residential and office uses on the first floor.

The area near the Congress Park train platform, meanwhile, envisions a wide range of residential uses north of Ogden Avenue, from townhomes to two- to six-story multifamily buildings. Ogden Avenue itself would allow a wide range of commercial or mixed-use commercial/residential buildings.

The Station Area Districts code does not address residential zoning districts. Those areas and other aspects of village planning will be addressed by a new comprehensive plan that the village will be putting together with the aid of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning in the next year.

The draft version of the Station Area Districts code is the result of about eight months’ work by a specially appointed steering committee that included President Kit Ketchmark, Trustee Michelle Ryan, Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Charles Grund, Planning and Zoning Commissioner Karen Miller, former Village Trustee C.P. Hall and Brookfield residents Dan Chopp, Ed Marcin and Scott Sanders.

Chopp is a commercial real estate broker and Sanders is a residential home builder. Marcin is a longtime Hollywood resident.

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