Urban Agriculture Zoning in Chicago: March Update

The UA zoning ordinance was NOT on the Zoning committee meeting agenda on March 3, and we don’t yet have word when they plan to address it, but we keep asking. See More Info below.

We’ll talk about all of this at the 6th Annual Chicago Food Policy Summit on Friday March 18 (10AM-6PM). We’re facilitating two sessions on urban ag zoning and policy:

The advocacy working group will meet on Thursday March 24 at 444 N Wells, Suite 602 (Shaw Environmental), 5:30PM. Ring buzzer to enter, get to 6th F via elevator at rear of building.

AND we’ll talk about UA policy at the members gathering on March 30 — 5:30PM at Garfield Park Conservatory.

MORE INFO:

AUA’s working group met on Feb 9 and then sent a letter to Andy Mooney, new Commissioner of (new) Dept of Housing and Econ Development, which includes Zoning. We included a list of questions and concerns, and requested the department convene a meeting for orgs, community entities, and aldermen to get questions about the ordinance answered before the committee holds its formal hearing.

Shortly before AUA’s steering committee met on March 8, we received a response from Andy Mooney with the city’s FAQs and written answers to AUA’s questions. While interesting, the city’s answers still don’t provide all the information or clarity we’d hoped from a group forum with city staff. We’re still pursuing a meeting to serve this purpose.

In comparison, consider the process before the city approved the Soil and Rubble Re-Use Ordinance in May 2009. Dept of Environment Commissioner Suzanne Malec McKenna responded to aldermen’s and community groups’ alarm about the proposed ordinance with several meetings for group and ward representatives, during which Brownfields staff explained the ordinance and answered questions. Consequences? 1) The city made some changes to the language of the ordinance and its supporting documents, and 2) aldermen and community organizations felt comfortable giving their support to the new ordinance. We urge DHED to take a similar approach with the UA zoning ordinance.

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