Evanston City Council members are scheduled Monday night to review plans for a 44-unit affordable housing development and a new church building in the city’s 5th Ward.

The proposals to redevelop property on the north side Church Street just west of Darrow Avenue — much of which has been vacant for decades — has drawn fierce opposition from some neighbors.

The development site as it looks now. (Google Maps image)

The opponents — several of whom are landlords in the neighborhood — claim the area already has too much affordable housing — at least compared to other parts of the city.

The Land Use Commission split in its recommendations on the two developments — voting 4-3 in favor of the Housing Opportunity Development Corporation affordable housing project and 5-3 against the new Mt. Pisgah Ministry church building.

The projects are tied together because the plans involve a land swap in which the city would give a parcel it owns on the corner to HODC and then the church would trade its existing land at midblock to HODC for the corner parcel.

The five-story apartment building would then be constructed at mid-block. And the church, to be built on the corner, would meet requirements in the city zoning code that an “iconic” building be constructed there.

Advocates for more affordable housing in the city generally have backed the new housing project.

Representatives of the church have complained that the Land Use Commission based its thumbs-down vote on concerns about the financing for the church project — which they argue are beyond the scope of the commission’s authority.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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