Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Boards and Commissions
An architect stamp on plans submitted for permit is required on most projects. If the project is large or involves structural changes, the permit plans should be stamped by an architect. An architect stamp may not be required for small projects, such as minor alterations in which the structure of the building is not being changed.
- Monday - Friday 7am to 8 pm
- Saturday and Sunday 8 am to 6 pm
It is always encouraged to contact Community Development staff early in the project planning process to understand the required reviews for the project and what permits will be necessary for the different aspects of the project. Each project that property owners take on is unique and the Community Development staff members are here to give you guidance for your particular project. Please contact us when you are ready to begin the conversation.
To minimize delays in your permit review, be sure that the information submitted is complete. Often time, projects are delayed are due to insufficient information being submitted. Building permit applications and checklists can be found here.
Under the direction from the City Council, the City Manager's responsibilities are to oversee the day-to-day operations of the City, which includes enforcement of City Ordinances, recommendations of policy, and policy alternatives to the City Council, and the preparation of an annual budget for the Council's review.
Jason C. Wicha, the Chief Administrative Officer of the City, was appointed by the City Council on December 3, 2018. Prior to coming to Lake Forest, Mr. Wicha served as the Assistant Village Manager in Skokie, Illinois. Mr. Wicha earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2003 from Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, and a Master of Public Administration degree in 2007 from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
Community Development Department
Responsibilities of the Building Section include documenting, reviewing, and inspecting all construction in the communities of Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Bannockburn. The primary tasks include reviewing construction plans for compliance with building code requirements, conducting building inspections to ensure that all construction is consistent with approved plans, and encouragement of safe construction practices. If you are unsure whether your project requires a permit, contact the Community Development Department at 847.810.3502.
Responsibilities of the Planning Section include administering the Zoning Code, making updates to the Comprehensive Plan, and staffing the Plan Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Historic Preservation Commission, and Building Review Board. Planning staff also undertakes special projects such as the Central Business District study, the Route 60 study, and the Historic Resources Survey.
In the U.S., EAB originated in Michigan and is now spreading throughout the Midwest, East coast, and Canada. It is currently in over 15 states, including most of Illinois, including Lake Forest.
Lake Forest has over 4,000 parkway ash trees, which represents almost 20% of the parkway tree population or one out of every five parkway trees. Furthermore, some neighborhoods have as much as 60% parkway ash trees.
Residents can contact Ralph Davila in the Engineering section at 847-810-3552 to inquire about the 3-year Pavement Overlay Program.
There are a multitude of ways to define environmental sustainability. Short and simply- sustainability is ensuring we meet todays needs in tandem with environmental preservation and reconciliation.
This is accomplished through initiatives that can be found on our website.
Specific to Lake Forest, residents can:
- Take the Metra to work
- Utilize bicycles for short distance travel
- Switch to an electric car and/or carpool
- Plant small trees on your property
- Minimize utility usage
- Ensure you are enrolled in our Electricity Aggregation Program
*reduced hours will be posted for holidays throughout the year.
*Fitness Center will be CLOSED on Easter, July 4, December 25, and January 1.
The Fitness Center welcomes both residents and non-residents. Non-residents do pay slightly higher fees.
Punch Passes can be purchased at the Fitness Center desk. Present your ID card to the Fitness Center desk staff prior to entering a Group Exercise class. The desk staff will check you in and provide you with a Class Pass. Present the Class Pass to the instructor at the beginning of class.
You do not have to be a member to take Group Exercise Classes or use a Personal Trainer.
Lake Forest Dance Academy Preschool Recital
One hour prior to show time to the John & Nancy Hughes Auditorium at the Gorton Community Center, 400 E. Illinois Rd., Lake Forest.
We have parent volunteers, teachers and student assistants with them while they are backstage. A teacher will escort them to the stage in time for their dance(s). After they dance they will be escorted back to the waiting area. At the end of the show all dancers will be brought back onstage for a final bow.
We ask that your dancer arrive in costume with hair as instructed by their dance teacher. Remember please to keep costumes hung up and not worn prior to the recital.
** Seating is assigned. Don't wait too long to purchase your tickets. **
Tickets are $12.00 each. Online ticket sales close May 2.
We will be selling tickets at the door for $12.00.
Ed Johnson of EDTV will be making a video of the entire recital.
Photo and DVD Order Forms are in the Recital Guide.
We ask that you do not take photos or videos during the shows as it is distracting and dangerous for the dancers.
- Weekdays: 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
- Saturdays: 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
- Sundays and Holidays: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Mayor and City Council
Mayor Tack was sworn into office on Monday, May 1, 2023. Dr. Tack earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois and attended the University of Illinois College of Medicine. Dr. Tack graduated with honors and completed his residency at the University of Illinois in Orthopedic Surgery. While in residency, he was recruited by Lake Forest Orthopedics and specialized in Spine Surgery, prompting a fellowship at Rush Medical Center. He moved to Lake Forest upon completion of his fellowship. Dr. Tack was founding board member of the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute. He was appointed Vice President of the Midwest Orthopedic Network and managing partner at the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute. Dr. Tack also served as President of the Lake Forest Club. Dr. Tack was elected as a Third Ward Alderman in 2011, serving multiple terms from 2012-2018. While Alderman, Dr. Tack served as the Chairman of the Public Works Committee and Fire Services Committee. From 2021-2022, he also served as Chair of the Central Business District Working Group.
8 N. Western Ave.
Lake Forest, IL 60045
Parks and Recreation
- Please bring in a drivers license, a current water bill or house contract for a new home purchase with the address on it.
- Children and adults must live within the corporate city limits of the City of Lake Forest to be considered a resident. Exception: Any child living within the boundaries of Lake Forest High School District 115 registering for a programs held at Lake Forest High School will pay resident rates.
- Residents of the Lake Bluff Park District are eligible for resident rates in the following areas: Athletics, Fitness Center, Wildlife Discovery Center, Kinderhaven Preschool Academy, Lake Forest Dance Academy, Lake Forest Sailing and Deerpath Golf Course. Lake Bluff registration takes place during the non-resident registration period.
To use our On-Line Registration Site, you will need an account with a username and a password.
Visit our On-Line Registration Site, click “Need an Account?”, fill out the form completely, and submit.
- When you create a new account, the category field will be set at Non-Resident and you will not be able to change this. If you are a Lake Forest or Lake Bluff resident, please continue creating your account and then contact the main office at 847-234-6700. We will confirm that your address is within the corporate boundaries of either the city of Lake Forest or within the Lake Bluff Park district and then change the category on your account to reflect this.
- If you are unsure if you already have an account, visit our On-Line Registration Site, click “Need an Account?”, and enter your email address or phone number in the proper field. If you use an email address or phone number that is already in our system, you will get a pop up that says “Duplicate Check”. If you have forgotten your username and/or password, please see steps below for login/password recovery. If you are still having trouble, please stop entering information and contact the main office at 847-234-6700 for assistance.
If you have registered for a program, reserved a park or beach pavilion, had a Fitness Center membership or participated in programs at Dickinson Hall in the past two years, you already have an account in our system.
If you do not know your login, follow these steps to recover your username/password:
- Visit our On-Line Registration Site and click “Forgot your password?”
- Enter the email address for your account in the box provided and click “Submit”.
- An email will be sent to you with your username and a link to reset your password.
- If you do not get the password reset email, the email address you used is not listed as the main contact email in our system. If this happens, please contact the main office at 847-234-6700 for help.
Accident reports are available for a $5.00 fee. The Records Division at the Public Safety Building, 255 W. Deerpath, is open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed on Sunday and holidays. You may also request an accident report by mail.
Public Works Department
Small Cell Technology (5G)
Unlike older wireless technology (3G, 4G) that rely on a network of microwave dish and panel antennas that can send and receive data over a large area, 5G antennas are generally smaller in size. Because 5G antennas have a more limited coverage area of less than 1,000 feet, and must maintain line of sight between the antenna and user for effective coverage, this changes the infrastructure needed to support 5G mobile networks and technology. Rather than rely on large antennas mounted on tall transmission towers spaced apart, 5G antennas require a dense network of smaller and closely-spaced antennas that can be installed on utility poles and buildings that are closer to their user base.
For more information about 5G, visit the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) website at https://www.fcc.gov/5g-faqs.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to facilitate 5G deployment throughout the United States. This strategy includes pushing the development of 5G into the marketplace by supporting network providers, updating infrastructure policies, and modernizing regulations. For more information about the FCC’s efforts visit the FCC’s 5G FAST Plan.
The FCC requires telecommunication facilities to comply with radio frequency exposure guidelines. Compliance with these guidelines ensure exposure levels remain well below those generally believed to cause adverse health effects. For more information, please visit the FCC’s web page on Radio Frequency Safety at: https://www.fcc.gov/engineering-technology/electromagnetic-compatibility-division/radio-frequency-safety/faq/rf-safety.
A worldwide online conspiracy theory has attempted to link 5G cell phone technology as being one of the causes of the coronavirus. Many cell towers outside of the U.S. have been set on fire as a result. FEMA and the FCC issued guidance on its website on April 9, 2020 reporting that 5G technology does NOT cause coronavirus which you can find here: https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/rumor-control.
Additionally, the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act, signed into law in Illinois, limits the ability for municipalities to regulate where small cell wireless facilities are located and grants wireless carriers the right to place small wireless facilities in the rights-of-way, subject to reasonable local regulations so long as they are not inconsistent with the law.
- Small cell facilities must not interfere with the frequencies used for public safety communications.
- Small cell facilities must not interfere or obstruct the use of rights-of-way by pedestrians and vehicles.
- Structural information may be required to document the integrity of any structure on which an antenna or related equipment is proposed to be mounted.
- Screening of facilities proposed in historic districts or on properties designated as historic landmarks.
- The City of Lake Forest cannot impose a moratorium or an outright ban on the installation of small cell facilities.
- The City cannot deny a carrier the ability to build out a system in accordance with all applicable regulations.
- The City cannot require that an applicant place small cell facilities on any specific utility or category of utility poles.
- The City cannot regulate the level of radio frequency emissions.
Real Estate Transfer Tax
Acceptable forms of payment of the real estate transfer tax are cash or cashier's check made payable to The City of Lake Forest.
The goal is to respond to icing conditions and slick roadways with equipment and personnel sufficient to control conditions within 30 minutes during normal working hours and within 60 minutes after normal working hours.
Snow plowing operations begin when the accumulation of snow on streets reaches two inches and sidewalks when it reaches four inches, or as weather conditions warrant. The object is to remove snow from all streets within six hours after the conclusion of a snowfall. If snow accumulates three inches or more, the length of time to remove snow from the streets may increase dependent upon the intensity of duration or the storm.
Plows need to make multiple passes along each street to push snow back to the curbs. To open all City streets, the plows initially plow the center of each street so cars can travel in both directions. After this has been done citywide, the plows return to push the snow back to the curbs. This is done so that the melted water can enter the storm sewer and drain away. Typically, it is during these two plowing intervals that the homeowners dig out their driveways. Unfortunately, it is not possible for the plow trucks to do their plowing and not fill in the driveway.
All residential sidewalks are plowed. Additionally, the City maintains sidewalks in the Central Business District, the train station platforms, City-owned facilities, and main walking routes. Sidewalks are plowed after a snow accumulation of two inches or more. Other than City facilities, sidewalks are not salted.
Items within the right-of-way, other than grass, remain the homeowner's responsibility for repair.
- perform a permanent repair of the damage
- replace the post with a standard 4x4-treated pole
- replace the box with a standard issued Federal regulation black box, or
- reimburse the resident up to $50.00 with the proof of receipt.
Mailbox damage should be reported to the Public Works Department at 847-810-3542.
No, vehicle stickers are non-refundable.
- Pay online https://www.invoicecloud.com/lakeforestil
- Pay by phone (833) 699-7832
- Utility bill payments can be deposited in City of Lake Forest postage-free white drop boxes located at the Telegraph Road (West) Metra train station parking lot, and on Bank Lane north of Westminster. There is also a drop box located to the left of the main entrance steps of the Municipal Services building located at 800 N Field Dr.
- Pay in person at the Municipal Services building and at City Hall during regular business hours Mon. - Fri. 8:00am to 4:30pm. We accept cash, check, Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express.
- AutoPay on a checking, savings, or credit card account. To enroll in autopay, please register your utility billing account online at https://www.invoicecloud.com/lakeforestil.
The source of all our drinking water is Lake Michigan. The water is treated using an Ultrafiltration Membrane System, and we produce 1.4 billion gallons annually.
The hardness of City of Lake Forest water is 7.5 grains per gallon or 130 mg/l of calcium carbonate.
Chlorine is added to the water as it leaves the Water Plant and into the distribution system. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency requires that we maintain a chlorine residual in the distribution system to protect the water as it passes through the pipes to your home.
During the summer months, as the lake water temperature increases, tastes and odors are more noticeable. This is generally the result of compounds produced by blue-green algae and other vegetation found in Lake Michigan that can cause a musty, earthy taste in the water. These compounds are not harmful and refrigerating the water or using a carbon filter water pitcher may help to minimize the taste and odors.
No. The water is purified using an Ultrafiltration Membrane System and is safe to drink. Daily tests are taken to ensure that we meet all of the Environmental Protection Agency parameters. If you are sensitive to chlorine or don’t like the taste, a carbon filter will remove all of the chlorine. Chlorine will evaporate if you fill a pitcher of water and leave it in the refrigerator overnight .
This occurs when the water temperature of the lake drops below 40°F. When the water is cold, it contains a relatively high level of dissolved oxygen. As the water moves through the mains and the pipes in your house, it is under pressure and the oxygen remains in the water. When you relieve the pressure by opening the faucet and filling your glass with water, the oxygen is now free to escape giving it a milky appearance. If this occurs, simply put the glass down and let it sit for a few minutes. If the cloudiness goes away, it is entrapped oxygen.
Stains that appear around plumbing fixtures, which are frequently wet, are not caused by the water. They are actually caused by airborne bacteria, mold, and mildew. These are called biological growths and usually occur more during the summertime. Dry areas will not support this growth. To minimize this bacteriological growth, ventilate and dry areas shortly after use. Frequent cleaning is another way to minimize these growths.
The Illinois Department of Public Health requires that we add fluoride to the drinking water to help prevent tooth decay and promote strong teeth for children up to the age of 8. In Lake Forest, we add between 0.9 and 1.2 parts per million of fluoride to the drinking water. Multiple tests are taken daily to ensure a proper feed rate. Since 1991, we have had perfect compliance with the Department of Public Health for the addition of fluoride to the drinking water.
You can call the Water Plant at 847-810-4650 between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. (Monday - Friday) to inquire about water quality issues.
Water & Sewer Utilities
The City maintains all water mains. Water services that connect to the City's water main are the responsibility of the homeowner or business owner. This includes the water line from the building to the water main.
The water meter will make noise when the water is running. However, if the noise is excessive, residents can make an appointment with the Water/Sewer Section to check the meter and determine if a repair is necessary. Please contact 847-810-3570 to schedule an appointment.
Homeowners are responsible for leakage in the plumbing around or leading to the water meter. However, the Water & Sewer Utilities Section is responsible for water leaks within the water meter. Please contact 847-810-3570 to schedule an appointment.
The City's water pressure is approximately 50 - 55 pounds per square inch (PSI). If the pressure is low throughout the inside of your house, call the Water & Sewer Utilities Section at 847-810-3570. If the pressure problem is isolated to only part of the house or one fixture, it is usually a plumbing problem.
You should run your cold water from a utility sink or the outside hose for approximately 1/2 hour or until the water runs clear. If it does not clear up, call the Water & Sewer Utilities Section at 847-810-3570.
- There is a blockage in the service pipe that leads from your house to the City's sanitary sewer.
- There is a blockage in the City's sanitary sewer main.
- The entire system is at capacity because of heavy rainfall.
In all cases, please contact the Water & Sewer Utilities Section at 847-810-3570, Monday - Friday from 6:30 A.M. - 3:00 P.M. If flooding occurs after hours, please call the Police Department (non-emergency) at 847-234-2601. They will notify the Water & Sewer Utilities Section, who will investigate the problem and determine how to correct the problem.
If possible, make sure there are no leaves or grass covering the drain. If the opening is clear and the inlet is not draining, contact the Water & Sewer Utilities Section at 847-810-3570, Monday - Friday from 6:30 A.M. - 3:00 P.M.
- If you have a sprinkler system, make sure you don't have a leak in the line or a broken sprinkler head. Call your irrigation contractor to repair the leak.
- It could be a leak in the water service that goes from the City water main to the house.
- It could be a water main break on the City water main.
If you do not have a sprinkler system, contact the Water & Sewer Utilities Section at 847-810-3570 to have the area inspected. If the City determines that it is a service leak, the repair is the responsibility of the homeowner.
No. Road drains are for transporting storm water from the roadways only. Private storm sewer services, such as sump pump discharges and area drains in private yards need to be connected to storm sewers only.
- Install a battery-powered sump pump as a back-up system to your other sump pump.
- Install an uncapped standpipe in the floor drain, if the location of floor drain permits one. It may give you the extra protection needed to prevent a basement back-up.
- If you have basement window wells with drains, make sure the drains work. Clear leaves and debris from the window wells. Also, consider window well covers for basement windows.
- If your downspouts "splash out" as opposed to going underground, extend them away from your house foundation.
- If you notice water standing over street catch basins, either inform the City's Water & Sewer Utilities Section at 847-810-3570 or try to remove the debris from the catch basin to allow it to take water.
- If you notice that your property is graded so that water accumulates next to the walls of your home, re-landscape to direct the water away from your home.
- Install a check valve to prevent sanitary sewer back-up.
- Do yearly inspection or rodding of sewer lines at your home.
- If you have yard flooding, it may be beneficial to have a yard drain installed.