Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s meeting of the Evanston City Council.

The meeting was called to order at 8:35 p.m.

A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online. (.pdf)

Citizen Comment

Dickelle Fonda speaks in favor of drone resolution.

Special Order of Business

Resolution honoring outgoing Township Supervisor Pat Vance.


Consent agenda

Items removed from consent agenda

  • Ecology Center Greenhouse … held for next meeting.
  • Tiny House donation to Ecology Center
  • Vacation rental regulations … held for further revisions by staff (detailed here) expected June 10.
  • Commercial indoor recreation uses in I2 district
  • Drone technology moratorium

Consent agenda approved.

Tiny House donation

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says doesn’t want the house placed on the wildflower garden. City manager says staff will put it in a different location — adjacent to the building but not on the wildflower garden. (Burrus recuses herself because she worked on the project as part of her job at Northwestern.)

Approved 8-0.

Commercial indoor recreation

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says concerned about definition of “commercial”  — proposes clarification of definition to not preclude a non-profit from operating such a facility. (Concern, other way, by Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, had been to not permit uses that would take the property off the tax rolls.

Rainey says if a tax exempt entity goes into one of the buildings, there will be an application for tax exemption.

Wilson says want to try to allow people to operate recreation facilities in this zoning district. Says under Rainey concept, taxpaying landlords would be precluded from renting to non-profit tenants — even if they continued to pay taxes.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, says the two different definitions of commercial don’t make sense to her either — so she agrees with Wilson.

Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, says he agrees with Wilson — thinks special use standard gives council the option of dealing with the situations on an individual basis.

Rainey moves to hold the item until next meeting. Burrus seconds. So the item is held.

Moratorium on drone technology

Burrus says she opposes resolution — says the technology has the prospect of helping residents — particularily in the area of public safety.

Grover says police chief doesn’t think drone technology is needed — at least for now.

Mayor asks whether the police chief sought out the resolution — Grover says no he didn’t.

Fiske says she opposes the resolution. Says the positive application of drone technology is something the city needs to pay attention to. Says resolution is not specific enough to address the concerns of the peace groups.

Says she’s concerned about limitations on commercial and entrepreneurial applications and work at NU on automation and robotics.

Tendam says rather than becoming the third city to establish drone moratoirum — makes us look like scared of new technology. Says need to deal with issues in appropriate and very specific way.

Burrus says don’t need the resolution to limit how the city of Evanston uses or doesn’t use the techology. If police chief wants, we can say yes or ho to his proposed use.

Braithwaite says he plans to vote for the resolution — notes that Human Services Committee supported it unanimously. Says he understood the proposal to restrict the police and that chief said city wasn’t ready to use it.

Says, though, that he’s not in support of a moratorium against technology.

Fiske says HSC intent was only to move it on to council, not necessarily endorse it.

Motion passes 5-4.

Wilson moves to overrule the hold on the Commercial Indoor Recreation ordinance.

(City Attorney says that will require a 2/3rds vote)

Rainey says simply wants clarification of issue regarding commecial definition. Says she barely got to read the new language proposed tonight.

Wilson says someone is interested in taking a space for such use — the proposal has been in front of the council for quite some time. Says the old definition would prevent the proposed use. Just wants to clarify the language.

Braithwaite says the issue is time-sensitive. The group has not requested any tax relief. Says have nit-picked the proposal to point we’re all confused now.

City Attorney Grant Farrar says special use can be conditioned on certain requirements (presumably which could include not applying for tax exemption).

Motion fails 4-5 … so item is held until June 10 meeting.

Call of the wards

Fiske.. . ward meeting June 4 at 7p at EPL.

Council votes to go into executives session regarding collective bargaining, litigation and minutes.

Public meeting ends at 9:43 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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