Evanston’s City Council is scheduled to get an update from staff Monday night on plans to start developing a new comprehensive plan and zoning code.

The city is scheduled on April 6 to issue a request for proposals from consultants to carry out the project, with the firm that’s chosen expected to start work in August.

City staff note that the city’s existing comprehensive plan was adopted in 2000 and the zoning code in 1993.

That makes them relatively old. A Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning presentations suggests that comprehensive plans should at least be updated every 10 to 15 years.

In a memo to the council, Planning Manager Elizabeth Williams says developing a new plan and zoning code presents “an exciting opportunity … to develop a modern, flexible, forward-looking and equitable approach” to evaluating the city’s land use goals, policies and regulations.

The process is expected to address potentially far-reaching changes to zoning rules sought be affordable housing advocates — including opening up areas now zoned only for single family homes to multi-family housing.

And it also will need to address issues that have developed in the wake of the pandemic — including whether to encourage more residential development in and around downtown to create new customers for retail merchants to replace the office workers now working from home.

The city also issued an RFP seeking comprehensive plan consultants in February 2022, but opted not to move forward with the project at that time.


Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. It is impossible to read any “ report “ in which the words “ excited” , “equitable” and “ consultant “ are not used referencing Evanston

  2. I wonder if the woke councilmen have the courage to change the zoning laws for the residential areas east of Sheridan Rd.?

  3. Thank you for letting people know that the city is working toward updating our Comprehensive and Plan and zoning codes to stay in touch with best practices for urban planning and design is important. Our comprehensive Plan is the community vision for the city, it’s priorities and goals. as stated in the plan “This document is to be a statement of municipal government policy and should act as a guide for administering other local policies including the Zoning Ordinance and the Capital Improvement Program. It should also help shape future neighborhood plans, corridor plans, and park improvements. The Comprehensive General Plan does not specifically address social services, but it makes references in several instances to City programs that do, including the HUD Consolidated Plan for funding social service programs through federal Community Development Block Grants. ” https://www.cityofevanston.org/home/showpublisheddocument/33310/636501392398000000
    It is absolutely critical that the process engage all the community and be transparent like Wilmette, Winnetka and Glencoe. Where meeting involve question and answers, not just public comment and there are community discussions. https://www.thelakotagroup.com/projects/winnetka-futures/ Winnteka has been working on thier plan since 2019 and Wilmette has a involved community process too, https://readysetwilmette.com/. I am hope we have similar processes and that all meetings are recorded for viewing by those who are unable to attend.

    Updating the zoning code which also must be a completely open and transparent process where the public can attend all meetings.While the article says the code was last updated in 1993-it is important to note that the code has been updated and amended about 976 times since 1993 https://library.municode.com/il/evanston/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=LIST_AMENDING_ORD_INCORPORATED_AFTERADORNO43-O-93

  4. The report will generate a discussion which has needed to happen for some time. The zoning code should make predictable what can and cannot be built, AND allow for economically viable building projects. From the frequency of reports on applications for permission to build, and controversy around many of the proposed projects, that Evanston does not have that at present. There is a process (probably costly) of commissions and committees and then City Council approval that has to happen before apartment buildings or condo buildings can break ground. Also, the developer does not know what will ultimate be approved. An example is the recent project to construct an apartment building in the fifth ward. What was approved is 25% smaller than what was applied for.

    I saw this a few years ago where a lot was acquired by a developer and the submitted plans to build were scaled down before they were approved. The site where they were to build is still sitting empty.

    If we want efficient use of land, and naturally occurring affordable housing then removing the cost and uncertainty of construction approval would help.

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