Land Use and Zoning Introduction

Land Use and Zoning

Livability is primarily created at the local level through planning and development decisions made by communities, developers, and individuals. CMAP upholds the long-standing Illinois tradition of local control over zoning and land use decisions. Yet, within that framework exist many opportunities for collaborative planning across jurisdictions in pursuit of common goals.  

CMAP supports reinvesting in existing communities, pursuing opportunities for more compact, walkable, and mixed-use development, and providing a range of housing options. Local land use decisions should focus on the interrelationship of transportation, land use, and housing, with an emphasis on development patterns that support the use of public transit. With local authority comes the responsibility to carefully assess broader impacts on neighboring communities and on the region as a whole. 

Achieving livability will take proactive planning by local governments that recognize the potential regional impacts of even seemingly small local decisions. One of ON TO 2050's highest priorities is to promote comprehensive planning in communities across our seven counties—including the development of comprehensive plans, consistent ordinances and regulations, and trained decision makers. 

ON TO 2050 also recommends supporting local planning through grant programs, infrastructure investments to implement plans, technical assistance, and collaboration between municipalities on shared priorities. CMAP provides a number of resources that help local governments to strengthen each of these. 

Local Technical Assistance program

With funding from a Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), CMAP launched the Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program, which involves providing planning, and in some cases financial, assistance to communities across the Chicago metropolitan region to undertake planning projects that advance the principles of ON TO 2050.

CMAP has initiated over 100 local projects with local governments, nonprofits, and intergovernmental organizations to address local issues at the intersection of transportation, land use, and housing, including the natural environment, economic growth, and community development. Common projects include updating municipal comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances, developing sub-area plans for specific commercial or industrial districts, sustainability plans, and parking management planning.

Local Ordinances and Toolkits program

CMAP's Local Ordinances and Toolkits program develops resources that help municipalities to develop policies that support the goals of ON TO 2050, guiding them through the process from study to approval on a variety of topics such as parking regulation, local food production, and more. Particularly relevant to land use and zoning is a toolkit on form-based codes.

Fiscal Policy and Land Use Planning

Tax policies and economic development incentives also play a role in driving local land use decisions.  It is important for the region to have the best information possible about how our fiscal policies drive land use decisions, as well as the resulting impacts on the regional economy, jobs, and principles of livability as addressed in ON TO 2050. CMAP creates reports on these and other policy issues that affect land use.  

Land Use Committee

The CMAP Land Use Committee meets on the third Wednesday of every month and is composed of members representing municipal, county, state, and federal government in our region as well as agencies and nonprofit organizations focused on land use issues.

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Land Use and Zoning Updates


January 11, 2018

Development trends and housing affordability by walkability in the CMAP region

Jan 11, 2018 Development trends and housing affordability by walkability in the CMAP region ...

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October 06, 2016

White House releases Housing Development toolkit focused on zoning

On Monday, September 26, 2016, the White House released a Housing Development Toolkit encouraging local governments to explore modernizing local zoning regulations to spur economic development.&...

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April 28, 2016

Municipal Matters, 4-27-16

This quarterly CMAP newsletter includes planning news and resources that can help municipal officials and planners like you to implement livability recommendations from the GO TO 2040 and participa...

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June 12, 2015

Housing stock diversity in metropolitan Chicago

A CMAP Policy Update explores how housing stock diversity has changed in the region since 2000 and how those changes relate to trends in housing tenure.

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May 27, 2015

Public meetings in Pilsen and Little Village

Residents and stakeholders are invited to share thoughts and priorities for the development of the Pilsen and Little Village land use plan at a series of community workshops in June.  The...

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May 05, 2015

2016 joint call for planning projects

CMAP, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), and the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) released a call for local projects across metropolitan Chicago through the RTA Communi...

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February 06, 2015

Municipal Reliance on Property, Sales, and Income Taxes and Their Relative Stability

Local revenue sources differ in terms of stability and this variation affects the ability of communities to provide consistent services and maintain tax burdens.

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January 26, 2015

Interactive Mobility Data Visualizations Highlight Value, Needs of Metropolitan Chicago's Transportation System

Maps and graphs based on data indicators show the region's transportation network is not being adequately maintained.

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January 16, 2015

Industrial Development Trends in the CMAP Region

A CMAP Policy Update examines the need to preserve and plan for the land uses that support the region’s manufacturers, freight providers, and related industries.

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November 25, 2014

Public input on IL Route 53/120 corridor land use plan

Thanks to all that participated in the IL Route 53/120 Corridor Land Use Plan open houses in Grayslake and Lake Zurich this November.

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November 07, 2014

Cook County property tax classification effects on property tax burden

The use of property tax classification in Cook County makes it difficult to encourage and strengthen non-residential development in existing communities.

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November 07, 2014

Voters consider state and local land use transportation funding measures

Several states considered ballot measures on land use and transportation funding on Election Day.

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October 30, 2014

CMAP Muni-Blast, 10-30-14

The latest newsletter features highlights from the 2014 biennial municipal survey.

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September 19, 2014

Tenure and Vacancy Trends in Metropolitan Chicago’s Housing Stock

Homeownership and vacancy rates in northeastern Illinois have begun to decrease over the past few years, mirroring national trends.

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July 25, 2014

New Recommendations for National Strategic Freight Plan

In June 2014, the National Freight Advisory Committee submitted a report on improving the freight system to U.S. DOT.

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July 22, 2014

Improved GO TO 2040 Case Study Library

Completed Local Technical Assistance projects and GO TO 2040-related work are highlighted in a new interactive map.

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July 15, 2014

Community planning proposals

CMAP received 104 applications were submitted by 77 different applicants to the LTA program.

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June 26, 2014

Evaluating Housing and Transportation Costs in the CMAP Region

Very few parts of the region are affordable in terms of housing and transportation costs for low-income households.

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June 13, 2014

Draft GO TO 2040 plan update available for public comment through August 1, 2014

Submit comments on-line and attend open house meetings throughout the region for the draft GO TO 2040 plan update and FFY 2014-19 Transportation Improvement Program.

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May 01, 2014

Obama Administration Releases Transportation Bill

On April 29, 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) released legislative language for the GROW AMERICA Act.

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