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Aldermen back downtown moratorium

Aldermen tonight voted unanimously to introduce an ordinance that would impose a six-month moratorium on new development in downtown Evanston.

Objections from Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, stalled plans to give final approval to the ordinance tonight, so it will be up for discussion again at the council’s June 11 meeting.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jonathan Perman praised the delay, saying downtown property owners deserve more notice and clear communication from the city of what it’s proposing to do with the moratorium.

Diane Lequar of 1516 Hinman Ave. urged adoption of the moratorium saying the Plan Commission’s Downtown Plan committee has been working hard to develop new zoning for the area and that the delay in new projects is needed to develop the thoughtful comprehensie plan that citizens and developers are looking for.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, who proposed the moratorium, said she didn’t want to have developers come forward with projects that may not be compatible with the new plan the the city has just hired consultants to help develop.

Community Development Director Jim Wolinski said that both projects recently proposed for the Fountain Square block — a 49-story tower at 708 Church St. and a 37-story tower to be built over the Hahn building at mid-block — would be exempt from the moratorium because both developers have submitted their plans for a zoning analysis.

Also exempt would be a one-story retail building proposed for 605 Davis St.

In addition, planned developments that have been approved by the Plan Commission or City Council are exempt — including Tom Roszak’s Sienna Development at 1100 Clark St., Bob King’s 1881 Oak Ave. and 1890 Maple Ave. projects and the planned modifications to the 1603 Orrington Ave. complex.

Mr. Wolinski said the only property he’s aware of that has been under discussion for new development recently that would be affected by the moratorium is 1515 Chicago Ave. The City Council rejected a high-rise proposed for that site last year and while the city has had discussions with potential new developers of the property, no new proposal has emerged.

Alderman Elizabeth Tisdahl, 7th Ward, said she agreed with Ald. Rainey that if a six-month moratorium is adopted, it should not be extended later. She noted that the Central Street moratorium, adopted last September and already extended once, will be up for another extension at the council’s next meeting.

"Things just don’t happen quickly enough," she said, "and I’m very leery of having it just go on and on."

But Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiest, 2nd Ward, said he supported a six-month downtown moratorium, and added, "I think it’s reasonable to expect that we may have to extend it."

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