The Evanston Zoning Board of Appeals has approved plans for National Louis University to set up a dormitory for disabled students at 1620 Central St.

At a meeting Tuesday night the ZBA voted 4-0 in favor of the special use request by the school to establish the dorm and classrooms in the former office building.

The proposal drew sharp opposition from some immediate neighbors, but the opponents were not able to rally other Central Street activists to their cause, and a provision permitting a dormitory as a special use was inserted into the rezoning plan for Central Street adopted last winter.

The proposal for housing the university’s Professional Assistant Center for Education, or PACE program, now goes to the City Council for a final decision.

College officials say the program attracts young people with multiple learning disabilities from across the North Shore and occasionally from out of state.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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2 Comments

  1. Good decision by ZBA
    ” The proposal drew sharp opposition from some immediate neighbors, but the opponents were not able to rally other Central Street activists to their cause, and a provision permitting a dormitory as a special use was inserted into the rezoning plan for Central Street adopted last winter. ”

    Excellent…while there were some shameful NIMBY’s who came out to speak against the students , it appears that most of the ‘other Central Street activists’ weren’t mean spirited enough to keep these students out of their ‘backyard’.
    Where were the other activists? Did they just realize that it would be wrong to try to stop this? Were they just too busy fighting the tower and other development projects? Or did they just realize that they would not succeed and just provoke outrage if they fought this project? I guess it doesn’t matter, since it looks like there will be a happy ending.
    I am glad that the students will have a new place, so easily accessible by public transportation.
    And congratulations to the members of the ZBA for not letting a small group of noisy activists pick on these students.

    1. CSNA takes a balanced approach
      I can’t speak for all “Central Street activists,” but to me, and to the Central Street Neighbors Association, activism doesn’t mean automatically opposing every proposal, development or otherwise. Contrary to some persistent mischaracterization on this website by “anonymous” posters, CSNA takes a balanced approach.

      We do believe that neighbors should have information on proposals and projects, that residents have the right to be heard, and that their concerns and ideas ought to be respected, listened to, and taken into consideration. That’s called democracy in a community. Just because someone lives nearby does not make them less entitled to comment on, or be concerned about, a project; if anything, neighbors may have better knowledge, and more at stake, than most. Someone who looks out their window at a site or drives down an alley every day may know a lot more about important details of that site than a consultant or even City staffer.

      In the interest of decisionmaking involving an informed public, CSNA has alerted neighbors to several projects on which the group did not take a position in opposition; the Evanston Hospital cancer wing, the Baha’i parking lot, and the National-Louis PACE proposal for 1620 Central are three examples.

      A full explanation of some of the pros and cons relating to 1620 Central specifically are listed here on the CSNA website. Overall, my work with activists in this neighborhood on many different issues has impressed me with the thoughtfulness of most, and a desire for fairness. That, to me, is quintessential Evanston.

      “Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government.”

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