Recap: Planning and Development Committee


Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council Planning and Development Committee meeting. Aldermen are scheduled to consider adjustments to the planned development at 1571 Maple Ave.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:10 p.m.

A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 7:10 p.m.

P 1 – Vacation rental license for 1918 Jackson Ave.

Approved 6-1. Rue Simmons votes no.

P 2 – Vacation rental license for 1005 Dewey Ave.


P 3 – Vacant lot purchase at 2122 Darrow Ave. and 2113 Dewey Ave.

$1 each. Approved.

P 4 – Zoning relief for 2626 Reese Ave.

Recommended by staff, but not by Zoning Board of Appeals.

Several neighbors speak in opposition.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, asks what’s buildable without major variations.

Scott Mangum, zoning administrator, says would need major variations to building pretty much anything, but it is a legal buildable lot, platted probably before the current zoning code was adopted.

Applicant, William James, says he’s built 22 houses in Evanston. Says he’s a neighborhood planner by profession.

Says prior owner wanted to sell because of neighbor opposition.

Says was told by staff that it is a buildable lot. If it is to be buildable, requires significant relief.

Says doesn’t think there is any proposal that could win ZBA approval.

Says the R1 zoning creates a lot of non-conformity across the area. His proposal not out of line with the area, he says.

Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, says its too large a house on too small a lot.

Developer says no house is the desired outcome of the neighbors.

Says doesn’t want to end up with something that’s so unreasonable that nobody would want to live in the house.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, asks whether there’s ever been a house on the lot.

Told no.

Matt Rodgers says at least since 1960 there’s been no house on the lot.

Neighbor says there’ve been three 25 foot lots there at least since the 1920s.

Fiske says it’s a really interesting question. Says there are a lot of 25-foot lots in northwest Evanston but they’re zoned R1 — and those two things are inconsistent.

Says to me this would be the perfect lot for a small house, like what council was discussing a few weeks ago.

Says concerned about reaction of the neighbors. Says understands change is difficult. Appreciates the concerns about the depth of the basement.

Developer says would have to get structural engineer’s approval.

Fiske says developer has done a beautiful job on other projects in town. But not at point of being able to approve this project yet.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says council has been trying to move in direction of encouraging small house development.

Says council is trying to support affordable housing.

Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, says may need to consider more what to do about smaller lots and affordable housing.

But says can’t approve the current plan.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, asks about water runoff concerns from staff.

Rainey asks why the neighbors haven’t gotten together and bought the lot to prevent development.

Says has known developer for 30 years. Says has built very nice, small houses in the 8th Ward.

Fiske suggests considering a small, affordable house.

Fiske moves holding to next meeting. Rue Simmons seconds.

P 5 – Dual-lane drive through for McDonalds at 1919 Dempster.

Braithwaite requests suspension of the rules for final approval tonight.


P 6 – 1571 Maple planned development major adjustment

Reduce from 101 to 70 parking spaces in city garages. Also change affordable housing from 2 at 100% of AMI to 1 at 50% of AMI.

Wilson requests suspension of the rules for final approval tonight.

Fiske wants suspension to be announced in advance.

Also doesn’t want Sherman Plaza garage to be used for this.

Sarah Flax, housing and grants administrator, says staff is focusing on rentals at 60 percent or below. Says hasn’t been able to rent at 100 percent.

Rainey says its a waste of time to put family units in downtown high rises (other than for the disabled and elderly).

Says better to have the developers pay to get out and have a city-run housing subsidy program instead


Meeting adjourned at 8:34 p.m.

City Council meeting to start at 8:40 p.m.

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