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Chicago Zoning: Where Can You Build Your Church?

If you are the head of a religious organization and wish to build a house of worship in the city of Chicago, things are not quite as simple as “on this rock, I will build my church.” Although residential zones in the city allow people to build churches, commercial zones require a special permit, which the City Council frequently denies. Our Des Plaines and Hoffman Estates lawyers have experience assisting churches with zoning issues, and we welcome religious organizations to contact us for more information.

Zoning Principles

Zoning is an important part of the laws regarding land use. Municipalities enact zoning laws to both regulate land use and to regulate land characteristics. The purpose behind zoning generally is to allow the local government to regulate land use and maintain harmony by ensuring that the buildings within each zone are compatible with one another in both use and appearance.

Special Use Permits

A particular municipality’s zoning laws may allow a use or appearance that is out of character with the other buildings in the zone if the proponent obtains a special use permit. In the city of Chicago, you can build a house of worship in a residential area without a special use permit, but if you want to build your church in a commercial zone, you must obtain a special use permit.

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