A plan to ban idling of commercial vehicles on private property failed to get into gear at Evanston’s Human Services Committee Monday

The nine-word amendment to an existing ordinance would have clarified that the ban on idling vehicles that weigh more than 8,000 pounds applies to private property, and not just the city’s streets.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, said the revision was targeted at auto repair shops adjoining a residential neighborhood along Hartrey Avenue in her ward.

“Over there you can really smell the diesel fumes going into people’s homes,” she said.

But Jared Davis of 2303 Dempster St., who owns a charter bus service, said he has to idle his diesel buses in cold weather to let them warm up before they can be driven.

And Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said she’d received complaints from residents across the street from Fire Station #1 on Emerson Street about fire trucks idling there for hours in cold weather, but had been told by the fire chief that the idling was essential to keep them operating.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, added that there’ve been complaints about school buses idling in the Chute School parking lot when youth groups come to the school for weekend performances.

And Diane Korling, who lives in the 1900 block of Orrington Avenue, said she was concerned about buses idling near Northwestern University dormitories. She suggested that if the buses moved to parking lots further east on campus much of the inconvenience to residents could be avoided.

The aldermen voted to postpone action on the measure until their April 5 meeting, and Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste suggested that the city attorney should meet with the police and fire chiefs and the head of the city’s fleet service unit in the meantime to figure out how much idling commercial vehicles actually need to do.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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