Redevelopment sites, like the former Bank of America building and parking lot on either side of East Burlington Street at Harlem Avenue will be examined as part of the commercial zoning update that's just kicked off in Riverside. The grant-funded effort will look at both the Harlem Avenue corridor and the village's central business district. (GOOGLE MAPS)

If you are a Riverside resident, business owner or commercial property owner interested in having your voice heard with respect to updating the zoning code for the village’s downtown and Harlem Avenue commercial districts, now is your time to engage.

For a full week this month residents can participate in a virtual public workshop that is part of a grant-funded examination of commercial zoning in Riverside. The public workshop will be available online at egretandox.mysocialpinpoint.com/riversidezoning# at any time between Oct. 13 and Oct. 19.

Participate in the virtual workshop by clicking here

This will be the only time prior to planners drafting code amendments that the public will be able to provide feedback on what they believe is most important for future transit-oriented development in those areas.

According to Sonya Abt, community development director for the village, the workshop won’t be a live presentation, it will be available to the public 24 hours a day, will provide information about the process and include prompts where participants can provide feedback and comment.

A press release announcing the workshop last week stated, “In addition to providing comments on an interactive map, participants will be able to review informational resources to learn about the project goals, transit-supportive zoning and key zoning issues in the CBD and along Harlem Avenue.”

The village of Riverside has created a special zoning update web page at riversidezoning.com, which includes links to documents, video and other information related to meetings of the steering committee created for the project, links to Riverside’s zoning code and information about other local and regional transit-oriented planning initiatives.

The local initiative is being funded by a $35,000 grant from the RTA. The planning firms chosen to lead the Riverside effort are Savoy Consulting Group and Egret and Ox Planning.

Consultants met with the local steering committee, comprising Riverside Planning and Zoning Commission members Jill Mateo and Jennifer Henaghan, Village Trustee Doug Pollock and Riverside resident Jeff Cermak, on Aug. 6 to kick off the project.

The meeting set project objectives, which included walkability and transit-oriented development in the central business district and preparing the Harlem Avenue/Burlington Street corridor not only for rail-oriented development but also Pace’s plan to bring high-tech rapid-transit bus service to Harlem Avenue.

Abt said the steering committee will meet again after the public provides input during the weeklong workshop.

“Then comes the long part, which will be [the planning consultants] drafting changes to the code for village staff and the steering committee to review,” Abt said.

That part of the process could take five to six months, according to the project timeline, with consultants delivering a preliminary document in early 2021. It’s likely the village board will get an update on the project at that time, and it could request the Planning and Zoning Commission to convene a public hearing to consider the proposed changes.

“Once we have actual amendments, those meetings are public,” Abt said. “There will be a village board update first, and then they can direct the Planning and Zoning Commission to review them if they are comfortable with what’s there.”

The public will get a chance to provide more feedback as code amendments are considered at public hearings by the Planning and Zoning Commission and village board. 

The project is expected to wrap up next summer.