The Zoning Committee of the Evanston Plan Commission took a first look Wednesday at alternative rezoning strategies to implement the Central Street Master Plan adopted by the City Council Monday.

Commission Chair James Woods got a mixed response from neighborhood residents to his suggestion that a little more height might be added to some of the limits proposed in the plan in return for eliminating the planned development review process, which now allows developers to break through the regular zoning height limits.

He also suggested that if the planned development process is retained it should be revised to specify exactly what benefits the city wants in return for increased height — for example, putting parking underground so that first floor retail spaces in mixed use properties could be deeper and therefore suitable for a wider variety of retail tenants.

Zoning Director Bill Dunkley said city staff would need to reach out to property owners whose land would be rezoned and said that despite all the public debate about the plan so far, many are likely to be surprised by the proposed changes.

After about two hours of discussion Mr. Dunkley said he’d pull together some specific rezoning proposals in time for the committee’s next meeting about Central Street at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 15.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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