The Chicago way at the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Greg Hinz had a very interesting article[read it here] in Crains a week or so ago about precisely how fruitless it is to say no to a developer in the booming Lakeview neighborhood. Hinz wrote about how one of his Lakeview neighbors, a lawyer named James Faier, was recently approached by a heavyweight zoning lawyer. The zoning lawyer represented a developer who wanted to erect a new building immediately west of Faier’s house. The zoning lawyer requested Faier agree to a variance that would allow the planned structure to come within one foot of Faier’s lot line. As in twelve inches. The zoning lawyer also wanted Faier to agree to a dramatic reduction in the rear setback. Faier said no. The zoning lawyer went to the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals. After the developer made a minor concession, the Board ruled for the developer. Faier appealed to the Circuit Court of Cook County and lost there. Now Faier is seeking relief from the Appellate Court.

Hinz wrote how Faier sent him some fascinating data from the Board. In 2016, there were 340 variances requested at the Board level. The variance was granted outright 336 times and a partial variance was given in another case. So the people seeking variance[presumably developers] have about a 98% chance of getting it – using 2016 data. Those are pretty good odds. Chicago odds.