Concerns raised over basement conversions
by BRIAN NADIG
Concerns about a proposal to convert the basement of a two-flat at 5339 W. Montrose Ave. into an apartment were raised at a Feb. 21 zoning meeting held by Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th).
Project attorney Paul Kolpak said that the block is lined with multi-family homes on RS-3-zoned lots, and "all of these buildings are legally nonconforming uses." He said that RS-3 permits only one residential unit on the typical 3,750-square-foot lot on the block.
Kolpak said that his client is seeking to rezone her property to RT-4 zoning to clear the way for the issuance of a construction permit for a new basement unit. He added that an architect has been hired for the project and that the unit would meet all building codes.
According to the city Department of Buildings’ Web site, citations were issued in 2010 and 2018 when construction work reportedly was being done in the basement without proper permits.
A resident expressed concern about existing parking problems in the area and said that the project could set a precedent leading to additional up-zoning proposals on the block.
"It doesn’t mean everyone could do this without going through the process. It’s a tough, expensive process," Sposato said in response to the concern.
One option would be to have the property’s zoning changed back to RS-3 after the construction permit is issued, Kolpak said.
Concerns also were raised that the meeting should have been promoted more widely.
Sposato posts notices of his zoning meetings in his electronic newsletter and on his Facebook page. Sposato said that he plans to hold a second meeting with residents about the Montrose proposal. The proposal was a late addition to the meeting’s agenda, which also included the proposed construction of four six-flats on the site of Garden Terrace Banquets, 6322-36 W. Irving Park Road.