Evanston’s Design and Project Review Committee voted Tuesday afternoon to recommend approval of the Salvation Army’s plans to open a Family Store and donation center on Oakton Street.

The army plans to buy the existing Gordon Food Service Store at 2424 Oakton and turn it into the resale shop. It would replace the organization’s current Family Store location on Oakton Street in Skokie

At a DAPR meeting Jan. 25 city staff had complained that the army’s previous Evanston location, on Chicago Avenue at Kedzie Street, which closed about a decade ago, “was a disaster” — people dropped off merchandise after hours, which others then scattered around the neighborhood.

After that meeting Salvation Army officials developed a proposal to expand staffing at the donation center and provide security lighting and video camera coverage.

Mitch Melamed.

An attorney representing the Salvation Army, Mitch Melamed, told the committee Tuesday afternoon that the group was also willing to consider fencing off the donation center or using a gate to block the driveway into the parking lot after hours.

City Engineer Lara Biggs responded that she was concerned about installing fencing or a gate right away — that the barriers might end up being a trash collection point on their own.

She proposed that the other measures be included in the special use permit for the store, along with a provision that a store representative would meet with city staff after the store had been open for a year, and every two years thereafter, to review any site maintenance issues — and reconsider whether fencing or a gate was needed.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of the plans to the Land Use Commission, which will consider the proposal at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9.

Ultimately the City Council will decide whether to approve the special use.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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