Kevin Major


In Chicago, the resolution of the fervent debate surrounding a certain land-use restriction known as the planned manufacturing district (“PMD”) zoning designation will have a direct impact on Chicago’s future. PMDs protect industrial operations by preventing all residential and many commercial uses of land in certain areas of the city. In 1988, Chicago began implementing PMDs to protect industrial operations that an influx of residential development—which had forced industrial companies to consider selling, relocating, or closing—threatened. Chicago continues to rely on PMDs. Fifteen PMDs currently operate, but some of these districts face increased scrutiny as Chicago’s industrial sector steadily declines. The Clybourn Corridor PMD is the PMD that has faced the greatest scrutiny. Those who advocate for the elimination of the Clybourn Corridor’s PMD designation argue that the current land-use restriction is a relic of a different economic era and that the historic justification for preventing residential and commercial growth is not applicable in the current Chicago economic market. But those who support the Clybourn Corridor PMD argue that Chicago should protect the few industrial jobs left in the area. This Article ultimately advocates for the City of Chicago to eliminate the Clybourn Corridor’s PMD designation. In place of the current land-use restrictions, this Article calls for the creation of a new set of zoning laws that maximize the value and efficiency of the land in the Clybourn Corridor by allowing residential and commercial uses. Under these new land-use laws, Chicago can shed an outdated and inefficient set of restrictions and create a new hub of economic growth.

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