- Nov 19, 2018
The Village of Northbrook’s Industrial and Commercial Development Commission (ICDC) wants to make it easier for manufacturers and distributors to have ancillary showrooms in the Sky Harbor business park, which has I-1 zoning. It is a permitted use in the Village’s Industrial & Commercial Services (ICS) district, which includes many of the industrial properties along Shermer Road. Currently, a business in the I-1 district must obtain a special permit for a showroom, which is limited in size to 10% of the gross floor area or 1,000 square feet, whichever is less. ICDC members felt that the special permit process is both time consuming and costly, thus discouraging businesses from locating in Northbrook industrial areas.
The ICDC hopes to raise awareness about the growing demand for showrooms and the need to update the Village zoning code to reflect current trends. “The process of a special permit for certain uses can be very daunting in terms of time and money for many small businesses,” comments ICDC Chair Pat Lederer. “The ICDC has asked the Village staff to look at other municipalities with business parks to consider how they handle these situations. Hopefully in the next few months we will be able to provide some guidelines and recommendations to the Village Board to improve the process.”
A study of other communities shows a wide range of approaches. Several communities have less restrictive options in their industrial areas, with many taking into consideration factors such as parking and signage. Niles allows retail sales as a permitted use in its industrial areas with no restrictions.
Some municipality guidelines are more generous than Northbrook. Buffalo Grove allows retail uses occupying a minimum building floor area of 50,000 square foot, providing parking and signage are taken into consideration. Others allow a high percentage of space. Elk Grove Village allows retail uses in up to 20 percent of the floor area. Hanover Park and Hoffman Estates allow retail businesses in up to 15 percent of the building area. Wheeling allows up to 10% of the gross floor area with no square footage restriction.
One recommendation that ICDC is evaluating is making showrooms conditionally permitted. A conditional permit allows Village staff to approve a use provided the business meets certain conditions such as parking requirements or signage restrictions.
The ICDC plans to continue to investigate the experience of communities with business parks and present formal recommendations to the Village Trustees in the next few months. Any changes would require public hearings before the Northbrook Plan Commission and an amendment to the Northbrook Zoning Code.