Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA)


The City of Lake Forest has zoned all land areas of the City pursuant to a Master Plan.   The major responsibility of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is to review questions and appeals which arise under the provisions of the City’s Zoning Code, as interpreted and administered by the Community Development Director.  The City’s planning staff of the Community Development initially reviews zoning appeals.  Most of these are approved by City offices.  The more challenging and sometimes controversial projects are referred to the ZBA for the Board to review.  Projects requiring ZBA approval include the following:

  • Variations in zoning such as residential structures built in commercial zones and vice versa
  • Review of special use permits
  • Appeals from the administrative decision or interpretations of the Zoning Code

Roles and Responsibilities

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

Procedures and Process

One of the first steps for a petitioner is to determine whether a project will require ZBA 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 ZBA, the following steps will take place in the approximately 45 days between the application and the ZBA 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 ZBA 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 ZBA.  The recommendation, along with the materials provided by the petitioner, will be delivered to ZBA 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 ZBA members review the package of materials and staff recommendations and typically will visit the property and the surrounding community.

At the meeting, the HPC 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 HPC will make a recommendation to the cCty 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.


  • Lake Forest resident
  • Excellent collaboration and communication skills
  • Working knowledge of real estate transactions preferred

Time Commitment

  • The Board meets the fourth Monday of the month at 6:30 PM at City Hall – 2 hours typically per meeting
  • Additional time commitment to visit sites outside of meetings as well as any assigned subcommittee work


Link to City website Zoning Board of Appeals