Evanston’s City Council Rules Committee voted Monday to keep the Planning and Development Committee in the development review process and let projects die there.

In an effort to streamline the review process for planned developments, special uses and other projects, city staff had suggested that recommendations from the Land Use Commission could proceed directly to City Council, skipping the committee.

But several council members said they wanted to keep the intermediate step and let projects die in committee if they couldn’t get a favorable vote there.

Corporation Counsel Nick Cummings pointed out that the way the city code is now written, the final decision is up to the full council

The Planning and Development Committee has only seven of the nine alders as members, making a committee quorum four. Therefore, depending on attendance at a committee meeting, as few as three alders opposed to a project could potentially kill it.

Only Ald. Devon Reid (8th) spoke in favor of having proposals that were rejected in committee still advance for a vote by the full City Council.

No one on the council spoke in favor of another alternative suggested by staff — of letting the Land Use Committee have the final say on development projects.

That idea had also come in for sharp criticism by several speakers during public comment.

Some council members, including Ald. Clare Kelly (1st), suggested moving the P&D meetings to a different night to address the issue of lengthy committee debates pushing the start of the full Council meeting long past the time posted on the agenda.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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