Building & Zoning

The Village's Building Department is responsible for verifying that all construction meets minimum health and life safety standards by ensuring that construction plans meet building code requirements during plan review and inspection, zoning requirements, and property maintenance standards in the Village of River Forest, and that all contractors comply with Village contractor licensing requirements

The Village's Zoning Ordinance is intended to promote the public safety, health, convenience, comfort, preservation of property values, and general welfare of the Village.  To that end, the Village has the following zoning districts:

  • R1: Wide-lot single-family detached
  • R2: Single-family detached
  • R3: Residential providing for a mixture of attached single-family
  • R4: Multi-family Residential
  • C1: Specialty retail stores, office and service uses
  • C2: Retail, office, service uses and multi-family
  • C3: Specialty retail store, office, service uses and multi-family to create a central retail focus
  • ORIC: Office/Research/Industrial/Commercial
  • PRI: Public, Recreational and Institutional

To determining what is permitted in each zoning district, consult the:

Village Zoning Map and Village's Land Use Chart

At the beginning planning stages for new structures, additions or alterations, it is highly recommended that the property owner contact the Village's Building Official or call (708) 714-3557 to discuss any potential zoning impacts including whether the project requires a variation, special use permit, planned development permit, or any other special zoning approval.


The Village’s Zoning Ordinance contains land use regulations and exceptions to these regulations, called “variations”, are occasionally necessary.  Variations allow the Village to provide relief to property owners from the strict application of the Zoning Ordinance when strict compliance with the rules presents “practical difficulty” or “particular hardship.”  Variations are typically granted where unique site conditions render the property less usable, due to no fault of the property owner.  Practical difficulties or particular hardships often exist on a property with peculiar site dimensions or configurations, unique topography, unusual terrain, unique soil compositions, etc.  Should a variation be required, the applicant will have to present their case to the Zoning Board of Appeals (there is a $750 application fee) and the Village Board.  Click here to learn more about zoning variations and obtain a copy of the variation application and to view pending variation applications. 

Special Use 

The Village’s Zoning Ordinance contains a land use chart which identifies which uses are permitted (P) or prohibited (N) in certain zoning districts, and which uses require a Special Use permit (S) or a Planned Development permit (PD).  There are certain types of uses which because of their specific characteristics, or the services which they provide, cannot be permitted in a particular district without consideration of the impact of such use upon the neighboring properties, and of the public need for such particular use at a particular location.  In those cases, an approved Special Use permit is required before the use can be initiated.  Should a Special Use permit be required, the applicant will have to present their case to the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Village Board.  Click here to learn more about Special Use permits. 

Planned Developments

Certain types of development, including all developments greater than 20,000 square feet, may require a planned development. Planned developments, which provide greater flexibility in design, are heard by the Development Review Board, with their recommendation forwarded to the Village Board.  Click here to learn more about the Village's planned development process.

If you are requesting building permit records, please click here to complete a FOIA request.