After nearly three years of work, Evanston has a new plan to guide development in its downtown area.

Aldermen voted 6-3 Monday to adopt the downtown plan despite ongoing criticism of height limits in the plan from about a half-dozen local residents who spoke at the meeting.

The critics included one who compared the aldermen’s debate over the Fountain Square tower proposal to the recorded phone conversations in which impeached former Governor Rod Blagojevich is alleged to have discussed selling Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat.

The plan as adopted Monday was unchanged from the version approved by the council’s Planning and Development Committee last month.

It calls for maximum height limits ranging from 60 feet in some downtown traditional areas to 385 feet on the Fountain Square block.

The latest version of the plan and earlier drafts are available online.

The next step for city will be to prepare and adopt revised zoning regulations to implement the plan, a process that is expected to take at least several months.

The plan’s adoption also lifts a self-imposed moratorium on action by the aldermen on the planned development request for a 38-story tower at 708 Church St.

But the aldermen gave no indication Monday of when they plan to address that project. When they last debated that issue, it appeared the project had support of five aldermen, one less than the six-vote super-majority required for it to win approval under existing zoning rules.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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