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City rule makes zoning appeals costly

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.

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