Evanston alders voted Monday night to lop a floor off a proposed affordable housing development at 1811-1815 Church St.

The change, proposed by Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) will reduce the size of the project from 44 to 33 apartment units.

It would leave the Housing Opportunities Development Corporation building four stories tall, instead of five, and would reduce the extent of the zoning variations needed for the project.

Burns said the smaller building would still add family-size apartment units to the area. The unit mix, he said, would be 12 one-bedroom, 10 two-bedroom and 11 three-bedroom units.

Burns said the change would achieve the lower density that some community members have wanted.

Most neighbors who spoke during public comment voiced opposition to construction of any new affordable housing in their neighborhood — at least until such housing is more evenly distributed citywide — a project that likely would take decades to achieve.

Several of the opponents are landlords who rent to low income tenants and fear increased competition from the new building.

Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) tried to delay a vote on the project, saying the plans should be referred to the Preservation Commission for a review of its potential impact on a landmark building to the west and that the revised plan for a smaller building should be sent to the Land Use Commission for a new hearing.

But Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) said concerns about the structural integrity of adjacent buildings are addressed all the time as part of the construction management plan review for a project conducted by city staff before building permits are issued, and it was not appropriate to send the issue to the Preservation Commission.

And she added that because project was being made smaller, rather than larger, there was no need to send it back to the Land Use Commission.

Burns said that before a final City Council vote on the proposal, scheduled for March 27, there would be time to prepare revised plans for the building.

The vote to introduce the plans for the development was 6-2, with Kelly and Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) voting no. Ald. Devon Reid (8th) was absent from the meeting.

The Council also voted to introduce plans for the Mt. Pisgah Ministry’s new church building at 1801-1805 Church St. on an identical 6-2 vote with Kelly and Suffredin voting no.

Several alders indicated they looked forward to addressing issues related to the distribution of affordable housing across the city during the upcoming revision of the city’s comprehensive plan.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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