Rezoning requests from two non-profit schools are scheduled to be heard by Evanston aldermen tonight.

An orthodox Jewish day school is requesting rezoning of the former Shure Bros. industrial property at 222 Hartrey Ave.

And the private Roycemore School is requesting zoning changes to permit it to occupy the Methodist pension board building at 1200 Davis St.

The Plan Commission recommended against the requests of both schools, but has proposed an alternative solution that would permit Roycemore to take over the pension board building.

The Joan Dachs Bais Yaakov School is seeking to have the site it owns switched from the I2 Industrial zone, which does not permit private schools, to the C1 Commercial district, where they are a permitted use.

The property is located behind the Howard-Hartrey shopping center, which is zoned C1. After Shure moved to Niles a real estate firm tried without success for at least five years to market the site to other industrial users.

Proposals to redevelop the site, just south of the CTA Yellow Line tracks, for residential use also failed.

The Plan Commission rejected the proposal 4-3, with opponents saying they didn’t want to see the property become tax exempt.

Roycemore is asking that the city rezone the 1200 Davis property from O1 Office to R4 Residential and grant a special use to permit operation of the school.

The Plan Commission voted 6-1 against that idea, but voted 5-2 in favor of an alternative solution that would add private schools to the list of special uses in the O1 Office district.

Some neighbors in single family homes and small condo developments west and south of the site had opposed the switch to R4 residential zoning, saying that it would permit higher-density residential development on the site if the school ever sold it.

Since the 1200 Davis site is already tax exempt, the switch from the pension board to school use would have no direct impact on the city’s property tax revenue.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Roycemore
    Since the land is already tax-exempt, I see no harm in Roycemore moving in, and of course I don’t like the single-family home NIMBYs and their anti-density argument.

    My only concern is this: While I can’t think of any examples in Evanston, there have been times in Chicago and other cities where proximity to a school was used as a reason to deny liquor licenses. I am afraid that if the Roycemore relocation is approved, the NIMBYs will try to close down Evanston First (less than a quarter of a mile away), or maybe prevent any new restaurant or liquor store from opening on Davis west of the tracks, out of their ‘concern for children’. Or perhaps if some new development is proposed on west Davis or Ridge (or anywhere else in the City…it doesn’t matter) , the NIMBYs will come out will all sorts of dumb arguments about how the traffic and construction will be dangerous to the children.

    So..the Council should grant permission to Roycemore, with the provision that NIMBYs will not be allowed to exploit the children to prevent future development or liquor licenses.

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