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Recap: Planning and Development Committee

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Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council Planning and Development Committee meeting.

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

The meeting was scheduled to start at 6:45 p.m. — and it did.

Public Comment

Four speakers call for stronger protections against condo conversions. Want to require 85% instead of 75% approval of owners to authorize a deconversion. Says Chicago has raised the limit to that level. Oppose requirement of payment into affordable housing fund upon deconversion.

Two speakers call for approval of a stronger tree preservation ordinance.

Both ideas are on the agenda for discussion tonight.

Public comment ends at 7 p.m.

P1 – Amending municipal use exemption in zoning ordinance

Approved.

P2 – Zoning relief to locate required parking more than 1000 feet from a multifamilyl residence at 1570 Oak.

Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, asks about assistance for handicapped residents and the cost difference between existing and new parking.

Scott Mangum, zoning administrator, says could look into those changes and bring revisions back when the ordinance is up for final approval.

Al Belmonte, of Wesley Realty, says working on agreement for one tenant who’s concerned about the price and is working to address concerns of one other resident about mobility issues.

He says plans to keep cost for residents of the 1570 Oak building the same.

Approved for introduction.

Discussion items

P3 – Condominium deconversisons

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says she hopes Evanston will adopt Chicago’s rule of 85% approval for deconversions.

Says also needs improvement to building management practices.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says doesn’t support the 85% rule.

Says Evanston was in the forefront of placing controls on buildings being converted from rentals to condos.

Says city took time to develop conversion ordinance that became a model.

Says thinks ought to declare a moratorium on conversions instead.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, asks whether could legally impose a moratorium.

City Attorney Michelle Masoncup says yes, could do that.

But says Chicago has much larger condo buildings than Evanston, typically. So, for example, a six unit building would have to have unanimous approval if the rule wer 85%.

Says individual condo developments could change their own bylaws to require a higher approval limit.

Wilson says he’s concerned about the impact of the inclusionary housing ordinance. Also concerned about special benefits to certain owners.

Revelle says its really difficult when the future of condo owners is taken away from them.

Rainey moves to have an ordinance that would impose a moratorium placed on the next possible Council agenda, to give city time to develop comprehensive reforms.

P4 – Tree preservation ordinance discussion

Paul D’Agustino of city staff makes a presentation.

Says some communities have much more staff to enforce their tree preservation ordinances that Evanston has.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, calls for lower threshold for protection. Suggests perhaps making different size rules for different species.

Recommendation is to proceed with developing a new ordinance on this subject.

Meeting adjourned at 7:37 p.m.

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