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Air Quality Zoning

The Air Quality Ordinance, approved by City Council in March 2021, regulates the construction and expansion of certain facilities that create air pollution. The regulations require a formal City review process and expand public engagement opportunities for the zoning, public health and transportation implications of many types of intensive manufacturing and industrial operations.  

The ordinance requires site plan review and approval by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD), the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), for the following types of operations:

 

Class III recycling Outdoor storage of raw materials, as a principal use
Class IVA recycling Warehousing, wholesaling, and freight movement
Class IVB recycling Waste-related uses
Class V recycling Coke and coal bulk material uses
Container storage Windrow composting
Freight terminal  Manganese bearing material uses 
Intensive manufacturing, production and industrial service   

The air quality impact study will model potential emissions from the business and its proposed operations. Applicants will use air modeling software, such as the U.S. EPA’s AERMOD and EPA MOVES, to evaluate emissions from various sources, such as processing equipment, diesel engines of yard and on-road vehicles, paved and unpaved surfaces, material handling, and wind erosion of stockpiles. In addition to a written report, applicants will submit data files for review by CDPH. 


As part of its site plan submittal, the business must provide the City with a traffic study, which will be reviewed by CDOT, and an air quality impact study, which will be reviewed by CDPH. All site plan submissions should be sent to aqzoning@cityofchicago.org with the title line: SITE PLAN – (ADD ADRESS) (Ex. SITE PLAN – 123 S. Street Avenue). 

Both CDOT and CDPH will provide opportunities for public review and comment on the traffic and air quality studies, and together provide a joint recommendation on the proposal to the City of Chicago’s Zoning Administrator. 

Additionally, the business must host or co-host a neighborhood meeting in the ward in which the project is proposed to give residents and community stakeholders an opportunity to learn more about the proposed project. 

See the visual below for more guidance on the process:

Air Quality Flow Chart

All new industrial uses described above are subject to DPD’s Chicago Sustainable Development Policy, last updated in 2017. 

Additionally, type one zoning map amendment applications that include the establishment of residential, daycare, school, hospital, recreational open space, an outdoor patio, outdoor assembly or other specifically defined sensitive uses located within 660 feet of any of the aforementioned types of business must obtain a special use, unless the zoning amendment also requires a PD. 

Other aspects of this ordinance completely ban new incinerators, landfills and mining operations from opening in the city, and remove daycare as an allowed use in all manufacturing (M) districts and all PMD-A districts.

Questions and comments from the general public on the Air Quality Ordinance can be directed to aqzoning@cityofchicago.org with the title line - PUBLIC COMMENT – (Add Address) (ex. PUBLIC COMMENT – 123 S. Street Avenue).

Businesses seeking a zoning opinion on these matters should request a zoning opinion letter from the Office of the Zoning Administrator.

A zoning process may be required for the aforementioned business types. Please reference the ordinance for additional requirements.

Additional information: