The attorney for the local resident seeking to block Northwestern University’s use of the Great Room dining hall on the former Seabury-Western campus will ask aldermen Monday to waive transcript fees in the case.

The attorney for the local resident seeking to block Northwestern University’s use of the Great Room dining hall on the former Seabury-Western campus will ask aldermen Monday to waive transcript fees in the case.

Attorney Art Newman, a former 1st Ward alderman, says the fees, which he estimates could total more than $5,000 by the time the hearing is over, are inequitable, unfair and a hardship on Evanston homeowners.

The city staff is making no recommendation on what action the aldermen should take on the request. But a staff review of policies in several nearby communities shows that most don’t require that transcripts be prepared in Zoning Board of Appeals cases.

Some communities provide a video recording of the sessions which applicants can use to prepare a transcript if one is needed for an appeal.

Only Highland Park among the nine communities checked has a system similar to Evanston’s in which transcripts are always prepared and the parties are automatically charged for their cost.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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2 Comments

  1. Fairness
    When Art’s clients filed their zoning appeal, there was a well-known fee for the transcript. They proceeded anyway.

    I do not care if other communities charge for the transcript. The City of Evanston charges for the transcript and Art knew it. Take a look at all the fees that the City of Evanston charges and other nearby municipalities don’t — like City vehicle stickers. Should I argue “boo, hoo…I don’t need to pay that City of Evanston fee because [fill in the muncipality] doesn’t charge it.”

    If Art and his clients did not want to pay the fee, they should have petitioned to have the fee eliminated for everyone BEFORE they filed an appeal. They didn’t take that step so the fee stands.

    Here’s an idea: Art should waive his fee so that his clients can pay for the transcript. Why should everyone else in the City of Evanston pay for transcripts when they appeal a zoning decision? Others have paid for their transcripts and Art’s clients can, too.

    Perhaps Art didn’t tell his clients about the transcript fee and now they are a bit peeved?

    Alderman, the answer is no. Just because he is your former colleague on the Council doesn’t mean that he gets big freebies for his clients.

  2. Hardship on Evanston homeowners
    “Attorney Art Newman, a former 1st Ward alderman, says the fees, which he estimates could total more than $5,000 by the time the hearing is over, are inequitable, unfair and a hardship on Evanston homeowners.”

    If Attorney Art Newman believes that the transcript is unnecessary, that is fine. Get rid of the requirement and the corresponding fee, for everybody.

    If Attorney Art Newman wants to keep the transcript requirement, but have the City provide it…I don’t like that, because I don’t want taxpayers footing the bill for zoning appeals…but it would still be a valid argument, as long as it were done for everybody.

    If Attorney Art Newman is suggesting that the fee requirement be waived for his clients…but not for everyone else..then I just don’t accept it.

    His whole argument seems to be that it costs a lot, and is therefore a ‘hardship on Evanston homeowners’. Has former Alderman Art Newman now seen the light? Does he realize now how burdensome Evanston’s excessive zoning, planning, and permit regulations are? Too bad he didn’t realize this when he was in office.

    Let’s streamline the zoning and permit process for everyone – not just friends and clients of Art and Judy, but for businesses, developers, and even Northwestern.

    EMW2K

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