Opinion: Zoning change at 1744 Augusta

By Greg Nagel

In last month's article the owner of 1744 W. Augusta, Jim Boatman, announced his request for a zoning change from R4 to RT4.5. However, since his lot is 40 feet shorter than the requirement, he actually needs a zoning change to R5. Since the lot will be downzoned back to R4 and the need for the additional R5 verse Rt4.5 zoning is a mere technicality in my estimation.

I believe I represent a moderate voice on the board and within the community. I'm pro- development and growth, but I want it done in a responsible way and balanced with the need to maintain a neighborhood that preserves quality of life. This project does exactly that. Its a more livable space for the tenant, its upgrading a 100+ year old building into a upscale rental property with all new mechanicals while preserving the historic orange brick exterior, its a green rehab which is good for the environment, and lastly it will raise property values within the community.

There are arguments that can be made against this rezoning in regards to precedence and yes Jim Boatman knew the unit was illegal when he bought the building. However, he could of continuing running it illegally with a tenant living in a space that did not have proper ceiling height. But instead, he came to the community and said lets make this a win - win situation. Alderman Flores was supportive of the idea based on the fact that Jim did not contribute to the over building of this property, and referred it out to the community for them to decide.

I am friends with Jim Boatman and I encouraged Jim to come to EVA with this request. Further, I would support this project even if did not know Jim Boatman. And I urge you all to vote for this zoning change this upcoming EVA meeting on 1/6/09. As you all know residential development has dramatically slowed down and this Green rehab is just what the doctored ordered. It's good for the future tenants, good for East Village, good for the environment, good for you!

Happy New Year!
Greg Nagel, 1040 N. Winchester Ave.

The board of the East Village Association has not taken a position on this issue.
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