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17.06 – Design Review Standards and Guidelines

17.06.010 – How to use this chapter

  1. Standards and Guidelines
    The Standards and Guidelines of this Chapter shall apply to applications for Building Permits and Site Development Permits as provided in Section 17.04.230 (Design Review). The Standards and Guidelines of this Chapter shall also apply to applications for Special Uses (Section 17.04.330) and Planned Unit Developments (Sections 17.04.400, et seq.).

    The provisions of this Chapter include “Standards” and “Guidelines”, both of which must be addressed in order to obtain Design Review approval. “Standards” are specific requirements that must be met. A Standard typically offers little flexibility unless options are provided within the Standard itself. A Standard may establish requirements not otherwise contained in this Title, or may refer to other requirements more fully set forth elsewhere in this Title or the St. Charles Municipal Code. “Guidelines” are descriptions of design characteristics intended to be applied with flexibility. Where a proposed design does not precisely follow the guideline, it may still be acceptable if the applicant can show how it meets the intent for that group of standards and guidelines and the purpose and intent of this Title, in particular Section 17.04.230.

  2. Applicability of Building Design and Material Standards to Existing Buildings
    Existing buildings that do not comply with the building design or building materials standards of this Chapter shall comply with the following standards:
    1. Building alterations or additions constructed primarily at the side or rear of a building may be constructed with the same design and materials as the remainder of the building, provided an addition does not exceed 50% of the gross floor area of the existing building.
    2. Any building additions to, or reconstruction of, street-facing building elevations shall comply with this Chapter to the extent practical to achieve a cohesive architectural design for the building. The Director of Community Development may grant exceptions where an applicant can demonstrate that conformance would be incongruous with the architecture of the building or would be impractical to construct (for example, re-facing a building façade with masonry material where no foundation exists to support the masonry).
(2011-Z-1: § 3 and 4)

17.06.020 – Standards and guidelines – All zoning districts

  1. Natural features and open space:

Intent: To preserve natural features on the site and provide open space for people to use.


  1. Comply with the provisions Chapter 8.30 of the St. Charles Municipal Code, “Tree Preservation on Private Property”.​


  1. Design drainage facilities to promote the use and preservation of natural watercourses and patterns of drainage.
  2. Preserve unique natural resources occurring on the site.
  3. Avoid unnecessary alterations to existing topography.
  4. Provide common space, plazas, seating areas & site furnishings to offer opportunities for pedestrians to meet, rest, and engage in other social activities.
  5. The use of energy efficient features such as green roofs is encouraged.


  1. Site Layout

Intent: To build a convenient, comfortable and sustainable built environment.


  1. Locate building facades and outdoor pedestrian spaces along streets and at corners, and locate parking and vehicle access in less prominent locations.
  2. Design buildings and site improvements to relate to a pedestrian scale.
  3. Retail development should be configured so that it can accommodate a variety of uses over time.
  4. Integrate all elements of site design including architecture, signs, parking, access drives, pedestrian facilities, landscaping, and stormwater facilities, and relate the design of these elements to existing development on surrounding properties.

    Buildings near the street should maintain facades and entrances oriented toward the street as well as to the interior parking lot. 

  1. Landscaping and Screening

Intent: Enhance developed areas with landscaping and screen service areas.


  1. Comply with the provisions of Chapter 17.26, Landscaping and Screening.


  1. Minimize the visual impact of the development on adjacent sites and roadways.
  2. Create an environment of landscaped streets, blocks and connecting walkways.
  1. Parking and loading

Intent: Provide adequate and safe parking and loading without creating an environment where parking is the most prominent feature.


  1. Standard: Comply with the provisions of Chapter 17.24, Parking and Loading.


  1. Provide pedestrian walkways and islands for the main circulation route(s) to the building entrance within parking lots having more than40 parking spaces. These walkways should be clearly delineated with pavers, bituminous brick pattern stamping or painted striping.
  2. The use of previous paving materials and designs is encouraged.
  1. Traffic and circulation systems    

Intent: Provide adequate vehicular circulation and pedestrian connections. 


  1. Design access and circulation systems to form a network of streets, alleys, and private access roads, and provide traffic calming designs where necessary.
  2. Minimize onsite and offsite vehicular congestion while providing safety for pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles.
  3. Provide adequate and safe vehicular and pedestrian access to the site and to uses and facilities within the site.
  4. Limit the number and control the spacing of curb cuts onto public streets, while allowing for necessary site access and circulation.
  5. Share driveways and provide cross-access between adjoining parking areas and circulation drives to reduce the number of turns onto and off of the principal roadways and to minimize conflict points. Adjoining commercial and office sites that are higher traffic generators are particularly encouraged to provide cross-access for circulation between sites and to minimize curb cuts.
  6. Make entryways clearly visible through the use of curbing, signage and/or pavement markings.
  7. Provide pedestrian connections between adjoining sites and to building entrances.
  8. Design and landscape pedestrian ways with attractive paving materials, shade trees, street furniture, scenic views and other amenities to facilitate and encourage walking between uses.
  9. Incorporate transit vehicle access and provide attractive and convenient waiting areas and shelters to facilitate the use of public transportation.

Public plazas help to minimize the effect of large parking areas and distinguish the path to building entrances

  1. Special Access Requirements for Main Street and Randall Road

Intent: Provide for safe access to and from arterial streets.


  1. Outlots that are within a larger development shall such as a shopping center or mixed-use development shall not have individual driveway access directly to Main Street or Randall Road. Circulation within these larger sites shall be via an internal road system that allows access    between parking areas and buildings so that vehicles are not required to use Main Street or Randall Road for internal circulation.
  1. Utilities and Emergency Access

Intent: Make sure utility and emergency access needs are met while creating a pleasant environment for people.


  1. Provide adequate access and facilities for emergency vehicles and services as provided in the St. Charles Municipal Code, including but not limited to Chapter 15.28 “Fire Prevention”, Section 15.28.050 (Subsections 503, 506, and 508), and Section 15.28.080 (Paragraphs A-G).
  2. Provide adequate access, easements and facilities for water, wastewater, and stormwater management services as provided in the St. Charles Municipal Code, including but not limited to Title 16 “Subdivisions and Land Improvements”, Sections 16.12.190, 16.12.210, 16.20.020, 16.20.030, and in the Stormwater Management Ordinance, Section 18.04.010.
  3. Provide adequate access, easements and facilities for electric utility services as provided in the St. Charles Municipal Code, including but not limited to Title 13 “Electricity”, Section 13.08.100.


  1. Minimize undue impacts on existing or planned municipal services, utilities and infrastructure.
  1. Site and building illumination

Intent: Provide illumination for convenience and safety, but do not allow light to intrude on adjoining sites, streets, or the sky.


  1. Comply with the provisions of Section 17.22.020, Site Lighting.


  1. The design and color of site and architectural lighting should be consistent with the architectural style of the building.

17.06.030 – Standards and guidelines – BL, BC, BR, & O/R districts

  1. Articulation of Building Facades

Intent: To reduce the apparent bulk of buildings and relate them to a human scale.


  1. Building façades over one-hundred (100) feet in length shall incorporate wall projections or recesses a minimum of three (3) feet in depth, extending over twenty percent (20%) of the façade.
  2. Architectural features such as arcades, arbors, windows, doors, entryways or awnings, shall comprise at least fifty percent (50%) of the façade.
  3. All facades that face the street shall have at least two (2) of the following architectural features to avoid the appearance of blank walls facing the street:
    1. change in wall plane of at least two (2) feet,
    2. change in wall texture or masonry patterns,
    3. transparent windows, iv. columns or pilasters, projecting six (6) inches or more from the wall plane.
      (Ord. 2011-Z-1 § 5.)


  1. Entryways and pedestrian routes should offer protection from weather such as overhangs, awnings, canopies, etc.
  2. Building design should include features to add identity and architectural interest such as projecting cornices, medallions, lighting fixtures, art work, belt courses of a different color or texture, pilasters, etc.


açades should incorporate articulation features such as projections or recesses along the building length.

  1. Predominant façade colors should be subtle, neutral or earth-tones. Primary colors, high intensity colors, metallic or fluorescent colors, and black generally should not be used as predominant façade colors. Building trim and accent areas may be brighter and include primary colors.

Different materials, textures and colors should be utilized to add visual interest to the façade.Caption

B.  Windows and Transparency

Intent: Allow people outside commercial buildings to see activity within, and allow people inside to see activity and weather conditions outside.


  1. Retail buildings and tenant spaces with 30,000 square feet or less of gross floor area shall provide windows so that the first floor is transparent from a height of eighteen (18) inches to a minimum of seven (7) feet above the walkway grade for no less than sixty percent (60%) of the horizontal length of the facade, and must contain a public entrance. Windows shall be clear glass (no tinted or reflective glass), recessed or projected in the wall plane to create shadow and visual interest, and should include visually prominent sills or other appropriate forms of framing. Awnings, pilasters or columns may be used to accentuate window openings and add interest to the design of the building.


  1. Large retail developments and shopping centers should help define the street frontage by placing outlot buildings near the street as well as to the interior parking lot.

For buildings and tenant spaces of 30,000 s.f. or less, at least 60% of the façade must be transparent at street level.

​C. Building Entrances and Pedestrian Walkways

Intent:  People should be able to tell where building entrances are located, and walking into the building should be a pleasant experience.


  1. Buildings shall have a public entrance on a façade that faces a public street or private drive that provides primary access (such as a mall ring road). Buildings that face more than one (1) street shall have at least one (1) public entrance on the primary street frontage.
  2. All public entrances shall be articulated from the building mass. Examples of such articulation include: canopies or porticos, overhangs, arcades, raised corniced parapets over the door, peaked roof forms, arches, outdoor patio or seating areas, display windows, details such as tile work and moldings integrated into the building design, and integral planters or wing walls that include landscaping or seating.
    1. Facades which abut parking areas and contain a public entrance should provide pedestrian walkways and foundation landscape areas parallel to the foundation not less than eight (8) feet in width. Sidewalks in this area shall have a minimum width of four (4) feet.
    2. Pedestrian routes to building entrances should be marked with pavers, striping, or delineated by the design and location of landscape features.

Public entrances should be articulated from the building mass using such means as a raised parapet and distinct materials or colors.

The pedestrian route to public entrances should be clearly delineated.

  1. Roof Design

Intent: Roofs should be designed to add visual interest to the building, to conceal necessary service equipment, and to establish the building’s identity.


  1. HVAC equipment and similar appurtenances shall be located and/or screened in conformance with Section 17.26.120.
    (Ord. 2011-Z-1 § 6.)


  1. Roof lines should either be varied with a change in height or the incorporation of a major focal point feature, such as a dormer, gable or projected wall feature, every one-hundred (100) linear feet in building length.
  2. Parapets should feature three-dimensional cornices or other shadow-creating detail elements along their tops.
  3. Mansard roofs are discouraged as the predominant roof design, but may be used on a limited basis to add interest and variety.
  4. “Green roof” designs are encouraged.
  5. Pipe stacks and similar appurtenances that are required by code and cannot reasonably be hidden should be concealed as much as possible by location and coloring.

  1. Primary colors, high-intensity colors, metallic or fluorescent colors should not be used as predominant roof colors.(Ord. 2011-Z-1 § 7.)

E.  Building Materials

Intent: Buildings should be constructed of quality materials that reduce maintenance costs over the life of the building, relate to traditional building materials used historically in Kane County, and reinforce the character of the community.
Approved and prohibited building materials in the BL, BC, BR, and O-R districts are:

  1. Approved Materials
    1. Brick
    2. Architectural metal (such as for window and door framing) and metal composite panels
    3. Natural or architectural cast stone
    4. Tinted and/or textured concrete masonry units
    5. Stucco, installed without the use of Exterior Insulated Finishing Systems (EIFS)
    6. Tilt-up concrete panels designed with a brick veneer or other architectural design
    7. Non-reflective glass
    8. Cedar or equivalent wood or fiber-cement siding and trim when consistent with the architectural style of the building
    9. Other materials as approved by the City Council or Historic Preservation Commission
  2. Prohibited Materials
    1. Smooth-faced concrete masonry units
    2. Painted masonry units
    3. Exterior Insulated Finishing Systems (EIFS) comprised of polystyrene foam panels, regardless of base or finish coat or treatment, located less than ten feet (10’) above grade, or over more than ten percent (10%) of any building wall
    4. Vinyl siding
    5. Pre-fabricated steel panels of the type used in farm, storage, and industrial buildings
    6. Plain tilt-up concrete panels
  3. Uniform Materials
    Use of uniform exterior building materials shall be required on all facades. For example, if the front wall contains a mixture of brick and concrete masonry units, the side and rear walls shall contain the same materials in approximately the same proportions.
    (Ord. 2011-Z-1 § 8.)
  1. Coordinated Signage

​A master sign plan shall provide for coordinated design for all building-mounted signage and shall include, at a minimum, criteria and specifications for general appearance, format of message, font size and style, lighting, location, and construction materials. Where signs are to be located on a wall of a multi-tenant shopping center, they shall be located at a generally uniform height on the building wall and shall not cover or overhang any architectural feature.

(2006-Z-12: § 2)

17.06.040 – Standards and Guidelines – CBD1 and CBD2 districts

  1. Standards and Guidelines for Site Design
    1. Building Placement and Lot Coverage
      Intent: Establish site development patterns that are compatible with the historic patterns of downtown St. Charles, while allowing the flexibility necessary to produce more intense, mixed use development that will foster a pedestrian-oriented environment.
      1. A building within the Downtown Overlay district should occupy at least 70%, and, whenever possible, 100%, of the width of its street frontage. Where buildings or parts of buildings are placed more than five feet from the right-of-way line or property line, a pedestrian space between the building and the street should be created that is 16 to 20 feet deep, and should be occupied by an active use (outdoor eating and drinking or outdoor sales) or a public space (a small park or plaza).
      2. The sides of buildings facing the river should be publicly accessible to the greatest extent possible, at the first floor level. This may result in more than one “front door” for some businesses.
      3. Buildings should be oriented towards zones of pedestrian activity, with primary entrances facing directly onto the street at street level.
      4. To maintain historic patterns of building development in downtown St. Charles, building footprints should not occupy more than 75% of a block.
    2. Parking and Service Areas
      Intent: Provide adequate parking and service areas to serve development without overbuilding parking or overwhelming the pedestrian character desired for downtown.
      1. Surface parking lots shall not be located between buildings and the street, but may instead be located behind or beside buildings.
      2. Private surface parking lots shall not be located directly adjacent to the river. Where parking must be located near the river, there shall be a landscaped area, preferably with pedestrian amenities, between the parking lot and the river.
      3. Service and loading facilities shall be oriented and/or screened so that they are not visible from public streets.


      1. Where a lot or use is eligible for the parking exemption (Section 17.24.080), on site parking is discouraged. Where parking is provided, its design and location should minimize impacts on the pedestrian environment. Perimeter landscaping or decorative walls for screening, parking courtyards, and use of brick or other decorative pavers for surfaces, are examples of ways to accomplish this.
      2. Vehicle access to parking structures, parking lots, and service areas should not be directly from arterial streets.
      3. Where private parking is necessary, shared and joint-use parking should be pursued to minimize private surface parking.
      4. Pedestrian zones along sidewalks should be protected with landscaping and street furniture within the sidewalk right of way, and should be supplemented with a row of parallel or diagonal parking between the sidewalk and the traffic lanes.
  2. Standards and Guidelines for Building Design
    1. Building Design, Massing and Detail
      Intent: New buildings should reflect the architectural heritage of downtown without copying historic architecture, and should be “of their own time.” Buildings also should be of high quality and enduring value, so that in the future, they are as revered as the landmark buildings in the rest of downtown. While the design standards and guidelines do not encourage the replication of historic structures, they do promote compatibility with the character of existing buildings in downtown.
      1. Plastic or backlit awnings shall not be used. While the use of more traditional awning materials and forms is encouraged, the width and height of awnings shall be related to the window openings and design of the building.


      1. New buildings should not present a barren landscape of rooftop mechanical equipment and expanses of unadorned flat roofs when viewed from upper floors of existing buildings. The patterns, materials and details of roofs and rooftops should foster views or become viewed elements in themselves, such as rooftop gardens. Rooftop mechanical equipment should be organized and located or screened to be visually consistent with the patterns, materials and details of the structure.
      2. In the Downtown Overlay district and other areas intended to have more intense pedestrian activity, buildings should be designed so that street level and second stories are predominantly windows; street level facades, and facades facing the river or open space, should be a minimum of 50% transparent glass. Facades facing publicly accessible walkways, but not facing streets should be a minimum of 25% transparent glass; upper floors should also contain transparent glass (30% or more); the use of mirrored, tinted or opaque glass or spandrel panels in new buildings to fulfill this guideline is not acceptable. (Spandrel glass may have acceptable applications for other purposes.)
      3. For buildings greater than four stories or 50 feet in height, higher stories should be stepped back from street level facades a minimum of six feet and a maximum of sixteen feet.
      4. Design the lower levels of buildings with pedestrian scale, and a sense of human hand and craft rather than machine production; distinguish the street level of the building from upper levels through the use of an intermediate cornice, a change in building materials or detailing, an awning, trellis or arcade, or lintels at upper level windows. Building entrances should be designed as a prominent feature of the building.
      5. Retail and entertainment uses should open directly onto a public street or publicly accessible pedestrian way (rather than through an interior lobby).
      6. Use earth tones or muted colors in the materials used for building exteriors. The goal is to achieve a design where no single building stands out or overpowers the views or the natural landscape of the valley. Lighter colors or bright colors should be used only in minor accents.
      7. Employ building focal points or “landmark” elements (clock towers, turrets or other architectural devices) with discretion. The use of elements such as gratuitous clock towers or fake dormers is discouraged.
      8. The development of usable rooftop spaces is encouraged. The height of rooftop arbors or garden features should not be considered in the height of the building, but should not exceed 12 feet in height. Such features should be set back from facades facing public rights-of-way at least 10 feet so they are less visible from ground level. Enclosed structures on the roof, including those used for access, should not exceed 20% of the roof area, and “open” roof structures such as arbors or other structures to provide partial shade should not exceed 30% of the roof area.
    2. Materials
      Intent: Use building materials in a meaningful way, but not in ways that result in a false representation of history.
      1. The use of brick and stone as dominant materials in a building is highly encouraged. In general, brick and stone should be the predominant materials for buildings within the CBD-1 District, while more wood and other compatible materials are acceptable in the CBD-2 District.
      2. Mortar should generally match the color of the brick or stone.
      3. Accent materials used in parapets, lintels, cornices, sills, bases and decorative building elements should be brick, stone, cast stone or architectural precast concrete, wood (except that wood shall not be used at parapets), untreated copper, terra cotta, or dark colored prefinished metal.
      4. High quality pre-cast concrete and high quality metal (with a matte or non-lustre finish) and synthetic materials may also be acceptable on an individual basis, provided such materials constitute less than 20 percent of the exterior and should be used in combination with other acceptable materials.
      5. Reflective or mirrored glass is prohibited; only transparent glass should be used for street level windows.
    3. Franchise Architecture
      Intent: Preclude the development of new uses that employ franchise architecture, corporate colors or symbols other than signage to identify their presence. Avoid standardized designs that do not fit in within the context of community character and neighboring development.
      1. Franchise or corporate architecture should be avoided unless it is compatible with the Standards and Guidelines applicable to the downtown districts. Customized, site specific designs should be provided for all development within downtown St Charles.
  3. Standards and Guidelines for Public Spaces
    1. Views and View Corridors
      Intent: New development should be located or designed to maintain significant sight lines to the river and to prominent landmark buildings.
      1. New buildings in the downtown area should not intrude into view corridors along First Street to the Hotel Baker, along street rights-of-way or extensions thereof toward the Fox River, or from other streets and public spaces toward other prominent community landmarks.
    2. Streetscape and Public Spaces
      Intent: Where private development involves improvements to public property, establish continuity and identity through a quality streetscape design that results in a truly pedestrian friendly environment and that creates a sense of place.
      1. Public sidewalks shall be designed to support pedestrian movement and allow for a variety of activities such as sitting, conversing, people watching, etc. via streetscape enhancements; sidewalk widths along public streets shall generally be 12 feet or more in width.
      2. Pole-mounted or building mounted lighting shall be designed at a pedestrian scale, and that is compatible with the historic character of the area.
      3. Street crossings (or even intersections) shall be enhanced with pavement materials, colors or textures that highlight the crossing as a pedestrian zone.


        1. a. Create plazas, courtyards and other urban open spaces for buildings with a footprint larger than 10,000 square feet; surround public spaces with uses that activate the space, such as street level retail facing onto the space, housing, or eating and drinking venues.
        2. b. Avoid the creation of large, singular spaces; rather, create a series of smaller spaces that offer opportunities for a variety of activities and views.
        3. c. Spaces between buildings should not become “leftover” spaces; rather the design of the space should invite pedestrians with thoughtful pedestrian features or simply by the craft and detail of the buildings along the space.
        4. d. Provide seating at the rate of one linear foot per linear foot of perimeter of the open space; provide “perches” that allow viewing of activity in the space; at least half of the seating in the space should be “found” seating (steps, walls, planter edges). Movable seating is also highly desirable.
    3. Pedestrian Movement
      Intent: Foster pedestrian movement and activity by protecting pedestrian spaces from intrusions and providing elements that offer comfort for pedestrians.
      1. Primary pedestrian movement routes should be reinforced with wayfinding devices (special pavements, signs, graphics).
      2. Utility functions (electrical transformers and switchgear, signal control boxes) should be placed underground, within buildings, or along cross streets to avoid conflicts with pedestrian movement and views.
      3. Provide “protection” for the pedestrian zone in the form of bollards, large planters, or trees where parking is not allowed along a street.
      4. Provide overhead cover for pedestrians; use arcades, building projections or awnings to afford a minimal level of protection from the environment; cover extending over the sidewalk (awnings) should be located between 9 feet and 12 feet above the walk, and should project over not more than one-third the width of the walk (but not less than 4 feet). Such overhead cover should be coordinated with the locations of street trees and street lights. Cover afforded by an arcade (a covered passageway along the street side of a building) should maintain a series of building columns at the sidewalk edge, and should be a minimum of 5 feet deep but no deeper than 2/3 the height of the arcade.
    4. Landscape and Public Art
      Intent: Enhance developed areas with landscaping, public art, and unique features that tell the stories and commemorate the heritage of St. Charles.
      1. Comply with the provisions of Chapter 17.26, Landscaping and Screening.
      2. Refuse and recycling containers shall be located away from the streets and pedestrian areas and shall be screened from the street view in compliance with Section 17.26.120 (Additional Screening Requirements).


        1. a. Develop landscape patterns that are shaped as spaces for people (pocket parks, courtyards and urban open spaces and gardens) as opposed to more suburban landscape treatments such as berm plantings and vegetative buffers.
        2. b. Use Public Art to tell stories about the heritage, people and events of the community, and the natural history of the region. Public art can be made purposeful, as well. For example, sculpture may double as a seating surface, manhole covers might convey messages about nature, and wide sidewalks or street intersections might become tableaus for art.

17.06.050 – Standards and Guidelines – RM1, RM2, and RM3 districts

  1. Building Location and Design

Intent: Provide a healthy safe environment in attached single family and multiple family developments where residents can have privacy while having opportunities to relate to their neighbors and the community.


  1. Where a front or rear wall of a row of townhouses or multiple-family buildings faces the front or rear wall of another row of another townhouse or multiple-family building, the minimum separation shall be thirty (30) feet. Driveways and parking areas may be located within this minimum separation area. For townhouse developments with garage doors facing garage doors along an interior drive, the minimum separation at the ground-floor may be reduced to twenty (24) feet, provided that the upper-story living spaces comply with the separation requirement of thirty (30) feet.
  2. There shall be a minimum separation of ten (10) feet between side walls among rows of townhouses or multiple-family residential buildings.
  3. A private yard a minimum of two hundred (200) square feet in area shall be required for each townhouse dwelling unit. This private yard may be located adjacent to a front, rear or side wall, provided that it is immediately adjacent to the townhouse unit it serves and directly accessible by way of a door or stair. All private yards shall be landscaped with turf, groundcover, shrubs, trees or other landscape improvements, such as walkways and patios.
  4. No more than five (5) townhouse dwelling units shall be attached to one another in a row.
  1. Façade Articulation and Reduction of Mass and Scale

Intent: To reduce the apparent bulk of buildings and relate them to a human scale


  1. To avoid the appearance of blank walls facing the street, when the side walls of a townhouse or multiple-family development face a street, the walls facing the street should be designed with elements typical of a front façade, including doors and/or windows.
  2. Large, flat facades should be avoided by articulating the building mass to create substantial shadows and visual interest. Windows, dormers, projected entrances and overhangs are encouraged on the street facing façade to add variety and maintain a pedestrian-scale.
  3. Buildings should be designed to be viewed from multiple directions and, therefore, should be designed with consistent materials and treatment that wraps around all sides. There should be a unifying architectural design for multiple-family and townhouse developments with more than one building, utilizing a common vocabulary of architectural forms, elements, materials and colors. Variety between buildings within this unifying design is encouraged.
  4. Windows and doors should have raised elements to create shadows and articulation. In addition, three-dimensional elements such as balconies and bay windows should be incorporated to provide dimensional elements on a façade. Windows should be set back (“punched”) into the façade to provide façade depth and shadow, in a vertical orientation and a consistent style. Windows, doors, and building edges should be trimmed out with appropriate materials in a width corresponding to the scale and style of the building.

    Facades should be designed with consistent materials and treatment that wraps around all sides of the building. Street facades should create substantial shadows and visual interest. Balconies, “punched in” windows with detailed trim, projected entrances and overhangs are encouraged on the front façade.

    Side walls of townhouses or multi-family buildings should be designed with front façade elements, such as windows and doors, to avoid blank walls facing the street.

  1. Roof Forms


  1. HVAC equipment and similar appurtenances shall be located and/or screened so as not to be visible from public streets or adjoining property.


  1. To ensure that new developments are consistent and compatible with the surrounding neighborhood character, consistency in the roofline should be achieved by using similar roof forms with varying height and proportion.
  2. For larger buildings, roof forms should be articulated so that varied planes and massing within the overall roof form are provided.
  3. Large, monotonous, simple pitched roofs, without breaks in the expanse of the roof, should be avoided. Dormers and gables can be used to break up large expanses of roof area. For flat roofs, cornices and parapets should be used to add variety and break up the roofline. Rooflines should be modulated every seventy-five (75) feet through the use of varied roof heights.
  4. Pipe stacks and similar appurtenances that are required by code and cannot reasonably be hidden should be concealed as much as possible by location and coloring.

    For townhouse and multi-family developments, monotonous roofs should be avoided. Dormers and gables can create breaks in the roof expanse.

  1. Parking Areas and Pedestrian Walkways

Intent: Provide safe access and adequate parking for residents and guests, while avoiding large expanses of paved areas and minimizing the visibility or parking facilities.


  1. Parking lots and garages for multi family developments should be located to the rear or side of the lot, in areas that are less visible from the street. Large parking areas should be broken into smaller segments.
  2. Curb cuts should be minimized on arterial and collector streets through shared access, rather than individual driveways for each unit.
  3. A clearly identified network of pedestrian connections should be provided in and between parking lots, street sidewalks, open spaces and buildings.
  4. Townhouses should be designed with garages to the rear of the units or, if located at the front of the units, designed so that garages do not form the most prominent visual element of the façade.

    Parking areas should be located to the rear of buildings to minimize their visibility from the street.

  1. Building Materials

Intent: Buildings should be constructed of quality materials that reduce maintenance costs over the life of the building, relate to traditional building materials used historically in Kane County, and reinforce the character of the community.

​Standards: Permitted and prohibited building materials in the RM-1, RM-2 and RM-3 Districts are:

  1. Approved Materials
    Approved materials for exterior use in the construction of new multiple-family and townhouse developments in St. Charles are as follows:
    1. Modular-sized clay brick
    2. Cedar or equivalent wood, or fiber-cement, horizontal siding
    3. Stucco, installed without the use of Exterior Insulated Finishing Systems (EIFS)
    4. Terra cotta or similar glazed masonry units
    5. Architectural metal (such as for window and door framing)
    6. Natural or architectural cast stone
    7. Trim, frieze boards, soffit and fascia boards may be of wood, molded polymer, copper, or fiber cement material; aluminum or vinyl material may be used for soffit and fascia boards only
    8. Architectural concrete masonry units for a foundation course only
    9. Standing seam metal roofing
    10. Slate or tile roofing
    11. Wood shake shingles
    12. Architectural grade asphalt and fiberglass shingles for roofs
    13. Individual glass windows in wood, aluminum or vinyl covered wood frames with true divided lights (i.e. no false appliqué mullions)
    14. Glass block for accenting purposes (glass block walls are not included in this category)
    15. Other materials as approved by the City Council or Historic Preservation Commission
  2. Prohibited Materials Prohibited materials for exterior use in the construction of new multiple-family and townhouse developments in St. Charles are as follows:
    1. Smooth-faced or textured concrete masonry units (CMU)
    2. King-size or jumbo brick
    3. Exposed aggregate (rough finish) concrete wall panels
    4. Tilt-up concrete panels
    5. Exterior Insulated Finishing Systems (EIFS) comprised of polystyrene foam panels, regardless of base or finish coat or treatment, located less than ten feet (10’) above grade, or over more than ten percent (10%) of any building wall
    6. Plywood, composite plywood or masonite sidings (T-111)
    7. Panel brick or thinset stone veneers
    8. Plastic
    9. Reflective glass
    10. Pre-fabricated steel panels of the type used in farm, storage and industrial buildings
    11. Vinyl or aluminum horizontal siding 
  3. Uniform Materials
    Use of uniform exterior building materials shall be required on all facades. For example, if the front wall contains a mixture of brick and wood, the side and rear walls shall contain the same materials in approximately the same proportions.
(2011-Z-1: § 9)

17.06.060 – Standards and Guidelines - RT-1, RT-2, RT-3, RT-4 and CBD-2 Districts (one- and two-family dwellings only)

A.  Site Layout and Context

            Intent:  To ensure building placement is consistent with the development pattern of the surrounding neighborhood.


  1. Buildings facades shall be oriented to the street.  Front facades should squarely face the street and should not be set at an angle.  However, if adjacent homes are set at an angle the new home may be similarly sited.
  1. Site grading shall be consistent with that of adjacent properties.   The slope and elevation of the property shall not be altered in such a manner that results in an artificial change of grade.
  2. The amount of front or exterior side yard covered by driveways shall be limited per Section 17.24.070.A.


  1. Setbacks (front, side, rear) should generally follow the averages for the block on which the new house is located.  Front and exterior side yard setbacks may be reduced based on averaging of existing principal building setbacks along the street frontage of a block – See Table 17.12-2 for setback requirements.
  2. Building and site layout should be compatible with existing topography and vegetation.  Preservation of existing trees, particularly older growth trees, is recommended.
  3. The coverage of driveways and parking areas in the front and exterior side yards should be minimized to the greatest extent possible.

B.  Garages

Intent:  To reduce the appearance and prominence of garages.


  1. Garages shall meet the provisions of Section 17.22.020 Accessory Buildings and Structures, including but not limited to:  requirement to provide access from a public alley; limitations on garage door width; and requirements to set back street-facing attached garages from the remainder of the building.
  2. Detached garages shall be consistent with the architectural style of the house.  Window styles, exterior materials, and trim detailing shall have a similar appearance to the house (but use of exact materials shall not be required).


  1. Detached or rear-loaded garages are recommended. A Building Coverage bonus shall be provided where a detached garage or an attached garage accesses via an alley is provided.  See Table 17.12.2.
  1. Street-facing doors on attached garages should incorporate glass panel windows.
  2. The use of individual bay doors (single stall) is preferred over double-wide doors, particularly for street-facing attached garages.  Stepped back, separate garage doors should also be considered to further soften the impact of a street-facing attached garage.

C.  Massing and Proportion

Intent:  To reduce the appearance of mass and to encourage new buildings to match the scale of the existing neighborhood.


  1. Buildings shall comply with the Bulk Requirements provided in Table 17.12-2 (including setbacks, building coverage, and building height).


  1. Scale, proportions, and height should be compatible with the general characteristics of homes in the surrounding neighborhood.  For example, effort should be made to reduce the appearance of height of a two-story house constructed among single-story houses.
  2. Simple building forms and shapes are encouraged.
  3. The following methods may be incorporated to reduce the apparent mass of a home:
    1. Step back portions of the home. For example, set the second story back from the first story or add an unenclosed porch on the first story.
    2. Use dormers to break up roof mass, if consistent with the architectural style of the home.
    3. Incorporate horizontal design detailing to visually break up flat walls.  Examples include wide skirt boards, mid-section trim between stories, frieze boards along roof eaves, partial or complete gable returns, or a change in siding or masonry patterns or materials.

D.  Roofs

Intent:  To encourage roofs and rooflines that add character and interest to a home.


  1. Roof form, pitch, and scale should match the architectural style of the house.
  2. Simple gabled and hipped roof forms are preferred. Mansard and flat roofs should be used only if appropriate for the architectural style of the house.
  3. Eaves that extend a sufficient distance to create shadow lines are encouraged if appropriate for the architecture of the structure.
  4. The roof of the garage and other accessory structures should mimic the roof of the house in both form and pitch.

E.  Architectural Materials

Intent: To promote use of architectural materials in a manner that complements traditional building styles.


  1. Primary siding materials shall be used consistently and at approximately the same proportion on each elevation of the building. For example, for a building with a masonry front elevation, masonry shall be used in a similar proportion on all other sidings of the building. (Note this Standard does not apply to materials used for accent purposes.)
  2. Exterior trim detailing shall be consistent on all elevations. For example, the same size window casing shall be used for all windows on each elevation.


  1. Siding materials used for accent purposes on the front elevation (for example, a masonry water table or siding type used within a gable) are encouraged, but not required, to be used on the other elevations.
  2. The use of exterior trim detailing is recommended, including window casing (a minimum of 4 inches), wide vertical corner boards, skirt boards, frieze boards, and midsection trim.
  3. The limited use of decorative elements such as gable trusses, exposed rafters, arched doors and windows, quoins, pediments, etc. is encouraged, provided such elements do not overwhelm or clutter the home’s appearance and are appropriate for the architectural style of the home.
  4. Shutters should only be utilized where appropriate for the architectural style of the building.  If shutters are used, they should exactly match the window size.
  5. Chimneys should be masonry when located on a street-facing elevation.

F. Windows

Intent: Provide windows that are consistent with the architectural style of the house while being complimentary to the window types and fenestration found on traditional building styles.


  1. The same window types and style shall be used consistently on each elevation where feasible. Double hung and casement windows may be used interchangeably provided they are of a similar proportion and incorporate similar detailing where possible (such as the same lite/muntin pattern).


  1. Windows should be incorporated on all elevations.
  2. The distribution of windows on each individual elevation should be balanced. Large areas of blank wall should be avoided.
  3. The style of windows should match the architectural style of the house.
  4. The use of fixed and large, undivided pane windows is discouraged.
  5. The use of window muntins (divides) should be consistent for all windows.

G.   Doors and Entrances

Intent: To promote designs that contribute to the pedestrian character and orientation of the streetscape.


  1. The primary entrance should be located at the front of the house, facing the street.
  2. The front entry should be the predominate feature on the front elevation.  Multi-story entry features should be used only when architecturally appropriate.
  3. The style of doors, particularly the front door, should complement the architectural style of the house.
  4. Open, full-width front or wrap-around porches are recommended to emphasize the front entrance.  Porches should be at least six (6) to eight (8) feet in depth and constructed in a manner so as to be fully functional.  Porch detailing should be consistent with the architecture of the house.
  5. Unenclosed Porches are permitted to encroach up to eight (8) feet into the front, exterior side or rear yards.  Unenclosed porches are not included in the calculation of Building Coverage.  For the definition of an Unenclosed Porch vs. Enclosed Porch and Building Coverage see Ch. 17.30.  For information on permitted yard encroachments, see Section 17.22.030.

H.  Additions and Exterior Alterations

Intent: To ensure additions and exterior alterations are complementary to the existing home and blend with the neighborhood.


  1. Additions and exterior alterations shall abide by the applicable Standards and Guidelines in Section 17.06.606 A-F.


  1. Additions should match the scale and mass of the original structure.
  2. Additions and exterior alterations should match the existing house in exterior materials, color, architectural style and detailing, window proportion and type, and roof form, pitch, and color.
(2019-Z-11: § 2; 2015-Z-25: §5)