A rendering of the Double Clutch property at 2119-2125 Ashland Ave.

Evanston’s Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals Wednesday night approved zoning changes needed for the planned Double Clutch Brewing Company development at 2119-2125 Ashland Avenue.

John Leineweber, who has developed several properties in the neighborhood, said he’s been waiting 22 years for this type of business to arrive in the area.

Years ago, he said, there were only five active businesses in the neighborhood. Now there are 75 — many in live-work units — and workers have nowhere nearby to go for lunch.

“I see food delivery cars come and go constantly,” Leineweber said, just from the Brella Productions office in one of his buildings that has over 75 employees.

Only one neighbor, Kelli-Ann Alcott of 1519 Simpson St., offered objections to the project. She complained that truck traffic in the unpaved alley behind the brewpub would make the condition of the alley even worse. “The alley always has holes,” Alcott said. “The city throws gravel on it, and it’s bad the next day.”

Nick Hynes, a representative of the brewpub, said they’d be willing to arrange to have gravel added to the alley whenever needed and that, beyond daily garbage pickups, the business would likely have only about a half-dozen delivery trucks a week.

Alcott also said she was concerned about parking congestion in the area from the new business.

The owner of the planned brewpub, Mike Chookaszian, said he’s working on agreements with nearby churches to use their parking lots for special event customers at the restaurant in exchange for letting the churches use the brewpub’s 29-space parking lot during their services.

The Plan Commission recommended City Council approval of a zoning change to add Type 1 restaurants to the permitted uses in property’s MXE — mixed use employment district. That change would be needed for the brewpub project.

It also approved additional recommendations from staff that would add restaurants to the permitted uses in two similar zones — the MUE and MU districts.

And it approved a staff recommendation to combine craft-brewery and craft-distillery or micro-distillery uses into a single use category — craft alcohol production facility — with no change in the districts where they are allowed.

And it approved another staff recommendation — to add Type 1 restaurants as an accessory use at craft alcohol production facilities, but added a condition that the restaurant would require special use approval.

The Zoning Board of Appeals recommended City Council approval of a special use permit to operate a banquet hall at the brewpub and zoning variances for reduced setbacks for proposed additions to the building and for not providing a loading dock.

The ZBA added several conditions to its recommendation — requiring noise abatement measures in the building; requiring that employees park off-site, but not on the street; that the alley be maintained; that a smoking area for banquet patrons be established and supervised to avoid noise complaints, and that the interior of the building be redesigned so that restroons aren’t facing the street.

Related story

Brew pub planned for Ashland (7/26/18)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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