Joe Resident owns a property zoned RT-3.5 in the City of Chicago.  Joe wants to make more money on his property.  Joe decides to expand his 3-flat, making it twice as tall - so that he can rent 6 units instead of only 3.  He doesn't care that his building will be twice the height of any of his neighbors, he has "property rights" and "should be able to make as much money as he can on his property."

Joe then decides 6 rental units "will not yield the return on investment he deserves on his property".........
So, Joe decides he is going to build over the sidewalk, rent the first floor to a Tavern, add a massive second floor beer garden and roof-top deck.  He expects plenty of patrons and plans to sell alcohol and play loud music outside at all hours of the day and night.

Then, in a brilliant moment, Joe thought of a way to MAKE EVEN MORE MONEY on his investment!  Joe installed flashing LED signs and speakers on the walls of his building.  He thought, "what a great idea - I can sell Ad space too!" 

Joe is creating jobs with his Tavern and the regular maintenance that will be required on his "Renovated" property, and improving an old building - why wouldn't the City of Chicago support his investment?  They should allow all of the variances and re-zoning Joe "deserves, because he has property rights."  Joe sweetens the deal for the city - he agrees to invest in a few neighborhood parks and provide security to help with the nuisances his development might create.

Joe's neighbors are understandably upset!  They expected Joe to be allowed a variance that might allow one more unit - maybe even a restaurant on the first floor - as long as it fit "the character of the neighborhood" and the improvements did not "negatively impact their quality of life or property values."  They understand they live in a vibrant, developing area and expected some property owners to take advantage of revenue generating opportunities.  But Joe's neighbor tried to add 5 feet to the height of his building last year, and the City of Chicago Zoning and Buildings departments denied his requests after over a year of appeals!

Property Rights are fundamental and very important - but they are granted based on the existing restrictions to land use, including public easements, landmark status and zoning laws.  Disclosures regarding land use restrictions are often required by law before owners can sell a property and prices are typically negotiated accordingly.  ALL property owners have both rights and obligations - governing bodies protect Joe Resident's rights, but also ensure he is subject to the same obligations as his neighbors, protecting their property rights as well.

 


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