Building Review Board (BRB)


The Building Review Board, established in 1962, is composed of seven Lake Forest residents who are nominated by the Lake Forest Caucus and appointed by the Mayor with the approval of the City Council.  Members serve 2-year terms for a maximum of three terms.

The BRB is responsible for carrying on the long tradition of Lake Forest by preserving the special character and uniqueness of various neighborhoods in the City and to protect property values throughout the community.

The City’s planning staff of the Community Development reviews building permit requests.  Most of these are approved by City offices.  The more challenging and sometimes controversial projects are referred to the BRB for the Board to review[1].  Projects requiring BRB approval include the following:

  • Demolition of existing buildings, architectural design of new buildings, buildings additions and alterations, requests for building scale variances, exterior lighting, signs, landscaping and overall site plans for new development
  • Reviews all requests for building scale variances and most requests for demolition (pursuant to the criteria in the Building Scale and Environment Ordinance)
  • May review other building permit requests involving replacement residences, design concerns or other significant issues

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Review material prepared by city staff (see Procedures and Process below)
  • Visit sites on the agenda
  • Consider all testimony presented at public meetings
  • Deliberate in an open forum


  • Architectural and/or engineering background.  At least one architect should be on the BRB.
  • Design experience to have ability to assess aesthetic details of building exteriors under review.
  • Particular attention should be paid to determining a candidate’s familiarity with the unique character of the housing, neighborhoods and other structures in Lake Forest.

Time Commitment

  • The BRB meets the first 1st Wednesday of every month at 6:30 pm in the City Council Chambers at City Hall.  Meetings typically consider 5 to 6 projects and last several hours, with a mandatory adjournment at 11:00 PM.
  • The time commitment is estimated at 8-12 hours monthly including meeting attendance and preparation.

Procedures and Process

One of the first steps for a petitioner is to determine whether a project will require BRB review.  Petitioners are encouraged to schedule a pre-application meeting with City’s planning staff of the Community Development early in a project’s design phase.  Staff will identify issues or concerns that may arise as well as provide direction on the required process.  If the application is referred to the BRB, the following steps will take place in the approximately 45 days between the application and the BRB meeting.

  • The application will be reviewed for completeness by city staff. The petitioner is notified of any additional materials or needed clarification.
  • Once complete, the item will be placed on the agenda for the next Board meeting.
  • Staff from various City departments will review the application and visit the site.
  • The city will mail notification of the petition to neighboring residents
  • A staff recommendation will be prepared for consideration by the BRB. The recommendation, along with the materials provided by the petitioner, will be delivered to the Board members in advance.  Copies of the staff recommendation will be available to the petitioner and members of the public before the meeting at the Community Development Department.

Prior to the meeting, BRB members review the package of materials and staff recommendations prior to the Board meeting and typically will go out to view the property and the surrounding community.

At the meeting, the BRB will hear a presentation from the petitioners and their representatives, listen to issues identified by the City Staff, ask questions and invite comments from the petitioner and members of the public.

After discussion, the BRB will make a recommendation to the city council.  In some cases, the petition may be referred to a subcommittee to expedite the process.  After the petition receives final approval, either as submitted or with modifications, the petitioner may submit a complete building permit application to the Community Development Department.  Upon review and approval of the final plans, a permit will be issued to allow the project to begin.

[1] Projects within the existing historic districts are reviewed by the Historic Preservation Committee.


Link to the City website Building Review Board