Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting. The aldermen postponed action for a week on an assault weapons ban and opted to explore a radically different substitute for the plan to expand the Piven Theatre Workshop’s space at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center.

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

Meeting called to order at 7:54 p.m.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, announced that Mayor Elizabeht Tisdahl is out of town tonight on vacation. Rainey’s chairing the meeting.


Recycling fair this Saturday. Also electronics recycling and paper shreading event. It’s at ETHS.

City Clerk reports receiving petition against sale of Harley Clarke mansion.

City Clerk reads statement regarding concerns he has about approval process for meeting meeting minutes.

Public Comment

Maggie Weiss of Noyes Tenants Association says Piven Theatre Workshop plan is not in best interest of community. Says Piven doesn’t have the track record to demonstrate they can accomplish the goals set forth in the plan.

Says renovation will create risk of asbestos hazards to existing tenants in the building. 

Says Piven hasn’t made sufficient allowances for parking.

Says the “sustainability plan” from the other tenants would generate twice as much revenue for the city over time as the Piven plan.

Leslie Brown, executive director of the Piven Theatre Workshop, says city has been talking for years for a solution and plan for arts in community. Says Piven told city officials two years ago that they planned to move out — because of lack of long-term plan for arts in the city.

Says Piven offered to pay for its own improvements to the buiding.

Says the plan is not an uncommon practice and happens in towns all over the country.

Says to make positive change to the infrastructure of the arts, both the city and the arts groups have to make contributions.

Asks for an end to delays.

Joel Fremuth, Piven board member, says Noyes as currently stands doesn’t meet Piven’s needs for the future. Says Piven will be paying for the opportunity to fix up the city’s building and pay rent besides.

—- end pre-scheduled comments —

Alderman Rainey says more than 50 people have signed up to speak … so each would get less than a minutes.

Rainey suggests that the 16 people who’ve signed up to speak about the Harley Clarke mansion, which is not on the agenda tonight, might want to wait till another evening to speak.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, suggests everybody who wants should be allowed to speak for at least a minute.

Rainey decides to let everybody speak.


First speaker opposes Piven proposal …presents petition in opposition with 200 signatures.

More speakers oppose Piven proposal.

Several speakers say they favor assault weapons ban, others oppose it.

Several people speak in opposition to selling the Harley Clarke mansion.

Citizen comment ends at 9:28 p.m.

Special order of business — assault weapons ban.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says the ordinance would ban …and define assault weapons.

Says proposed ordinance would not deal with functionality — would let have magazine that would hold as many bullets as want. Says ban also appears to ban hunting rifles.

Says he believes legal staff needs to rewrite it to ban high capacity mazanines and armor-piercing bullets.

Says the ordinance doesn’t do what the council wants.

Says can’t suggest specific changes on the fly — its too complicated.

Says other communities have recently passed similar ordinances.

People threaten lawsuits, he says, I’m a lawyer, I’m not afraid of lawsuits.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, says she wants to see those issues addressed — but is also concerned about the time problem.

City Attorney Grant Farrar says the state legislature is scheduled to vote on the governor’s veto tomorrow.

HB 183 essentially preempts home rule.

The bill says that once a community has adopted a ban, it can later be amended, despite the 10 day limit.

Farrar says the ordinance as drafted reflects Chicago’s ordinance and Cook County’s ordinance. The legislature, he says, also specifically addressed “cosmetic features.”

Says he’s not sure what the basis for Skokie’s ordinance is — hasn’t had a chance to talk to the legal staff there yet.

Wilson notes that the City Council has another meeting scheduled for Monday, July 15.

Wilson and Wynne move to have the issue held until next week’s meeting — and so it will be held till then.

Consent agenda

Items taken off consent agenda …

  • HOME funds grant to Connections for the Homeless held until next Planning and Development Committee meeting two weeks from now.
  • 1622 Forest B&B … will be addressed by committee chair.
  • Noyes Cultural Arts Center … Piven Theatre plan also off consent agenda

Consent agenda approved.

1622 Forest Bed and Breakfast

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, requests amendment to strike requirement for commercial trash collection three times a week. Says doing regular city trash collection will cause the least amount of distraction in the neighborhood.

Wilson seconds.

Fiske says favors ZBA recommendation for commercial trash pickup.

Rainey suggests giving 90 days to test using city collections, then revisit issue if there’s a problem.

Amendment as revised by Rainey approved unanimously.

Fiske says same owner owns four houses on the block. Said two years ago applicant said had no plans to request more B&Bs when first one was approves. Says will open the door to other commercial uses to creep into single family zones.

Wynne says she agrees with Fiske. Says it will turn the neighborhood into a commercial district.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, says she wishes had reached a compromise on distance requirements. Says she tried very hard to get a compromise on that – -but wasn’t able to get it. But says she will vote for this development because she generally supports B&Bs.

Ordinance approved 7-2. Fiske and Wynne vote no.

Piven theater proposal

Holmes moves approval Grover seconds.

Tendam proposes a different proposal. Says it could accommodate Piven and other Noyes tenants.

Says trying to have a single space accommodate both theater and visual arts in the same space is a mistake.

Says should instead establish a theater building for multiple theater groups downtown — and that would be more accessible and have more parking, restaurants, etc.

Says the visual arts can be accommodated at Noyes with relatively minor upgrades.

Says will need to do fundraising and looking for grants so it’s not a burden on the taxpayers.

Proposes to report back in two weeks on an alternative plan. Says Piven needs to have an answer by then.

Wilson says he’s surprised — the city has put Piven and the other groups in this positions.

Says it’s created an adversarial circumstance that isn’t fair to any of the groups. Apologizes for that.

Need to put forward the best product we can and maintain our facilities, Wilson says.

The city asked them to come up with an idea, he says.

Grover asks whether being in a downtown location be the best solution for Piven. But says don’t know whether council or Piven is nimble enough to do it. but  “I’m glad to let you drive this bus for two weeks.”

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz recommends holding the lease resolution if the 

Tendam says he had a long discussion with Leslie Brown the executive director of Piven this afternoon and also talked to the city manager about it.

Says wants to involve the three theater groups and the chamber and the Evanston Community Foundation.

Says thinks can get commitment that the new approach is the right direction in two weeks.

Hopes to get sign on from various community groups in that time.

Fiske says she agrees with that, and “good luck.” Says she had serious concerns about the impact on the residential neighborhood around Noyes — would keep the lower-key artist community that have had for many years.

Leslie Brown from Piven says clear that since Piven has stuck through the process for two-and-a-half years. But this can’t be just a way to kick the can down the road. Piven has been working on several different proposals at the same time because need to determine where will settle. “We’re open to it, but need to have a plan,” she says.

Piven proposal is introduced on a 9-0 vote as a placeholder for what Tendam is proposing as an alternative to be developed before the final vote is scheduled in two weeks.

Call of the wards

Burrus – 9th Ward meeting 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Levy Center.

Wynne – Makes reference to P&D committee regarding distance and ownership for B&Bs.

No executive session tonight.

Meeting adjourned at 10:33 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Ordinance approved 7-2. Fiske and Wynne vote no.

    "Fiske says same owner owns four houses on the block. Said two years ago applicant said had no plans to request more B&Bs when first one was approves. Says will open the door to other commercial uses to creep into single family zones.

    Wynne says she agrees with Fiske. Says it will turn the neighborhood into a commercial district."

    The neighborhood will turn into a commercial district when people decide that they can't afford to maintain their large single family homes and pay Evanston's high taxes.  They will move out, and eventually the properties will either be demolished or passed to owners who subdivide and rent.  Fiske and Wynne are hastening this process by doing everything they can to keep taxes high.

    "Ordinance approved 7-2. Fiske and Wynne vote no."

    This summarizes just about EVERY zoning vote in the last four years.



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