May 22, 2017

Alderman Postpones 71st Street Rezoning Proposals

Fifth Ward alderman Leslie Hairston announced that she has temporarily pulled her proposal to rezone the South Shore neighborhood’s 71st Street business corridor as residential.  

Hairston’s eight proposed zoning ordinances were scheduled to be considered today by Chicago’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Business Standards. If passed, the ordinances would have zoned the 15-block area from South Jeffery Avenue to South Yates Avenue for single-family residential homes. 

“I always listen to my constituents, and that’s why I pulled the ordinance,” Alderman Hairston said. “Because I didn’t have a chance to hear from them.” 

The move comes after community groups raised concerns about the proposals, which Hairston said were designed to limit the spread of businesses engaged in criminal activity.   

“We do not support the unprecedented proposals to down-zone 71st Street and give aldermen veto power over all business licenses,” the community group Reclaiming South Shore for All wrote in an online petition.  

“These proposals and their consequences have not been publicly debated,” the group said. “Instead of these proposed ordinances, we request a comprehensive and collaborative planning process for South Shore.”  

Hairston will discuss the rezoning proposal at her monthly ward meeting on Tuesday, May 23. If her constituents are supportive of the proposal, she plans to resubmit it.  

Regardless, Hairston said she remains committed to working to close problematic businesses in South Shore. 

“These are businesses that sell drugs out of them, businesses that let gangbangers hang around outside of them, businesses that sell illegal cigarettes to minors. Businesses that pose a danger to citizens walking outside them in the street,” Hairston said. 

“We have been trying to find a way to approach these problem businesses for years,” she said. “I’ll keep working.”