We are following up on our article in the Illinois School Board Journal Sept/October Issue “Navigating uncharted waters: School district facilities and local zoning,” with three zoning topics that continue to present challenges and further the zoning conversation in Illinois.
- Zoning Compliance including Tree Preservation
Municipal zoning ordinances sometimes include tree preservation requirements intended to protect forested areas. Requirements may include the replacement of existing trees, or mandatory preservation of mature trees. Working together, landscape architects and civil engineers can satisfy these requirements with creative solutions that also enhance the aesthetics, ecology and water quality on school sites.
- Building Permit Applicability
We share the concerns of many school districts regarding the scope and application of municipal zoning reviews. Some municipalities have adopted ordinances that include both zoning and building regulations. Interpretations of what constitutes a “school building project,” versus an ancillary use on a school site may contribute to further confusion. Legal counsel can offer valuable guidance to help districts maintain an appropriate level of autonomy and independence.
- The Rise of Solar Power
Solar energy systems are offering exciting options for sustainable power and are growing in popularity across school districts in Illinois. Opportunities to reduce operational costs and generate revenues are leading many districts to consider building mounted and at-grade solar arrays. Many communities are not yet familiar with solar arrays, and these projects can face unique regulatory challenges. Setting up meetings early can help prepare municipalities for your upcoming project and address any concerns.
What has your experience been like with the new Illinois zoning changes? Stop by booth #510 at the joint conference to share your thoughts.