A rendering showing the proposed new garage at 1414 Church St.

The plans of homeowners in the Ridge Historic District to replace an aging one-car garage on their small lot with a new two car garage ran out of gas at the Land Use Commission Wednesday night.

The small lot the house at 1414 Church St. sits on was carved out of a much larger parcel at 1632 Wesley Ave. well over a century ago.

As a result it doesn’t comply with current R1 zoning rules, and owners Patricia and Cory King needed approval of variations from rear yard setback, lot coverage and impervious surface requirements.

The owners of the bigger lot and the tenants in their coach house opposed the garage plan, claiming it would cut off light and air to the coach house.

A view of this existing one-car garage on the 1414 Church St. property.

They were joined in opposition by two long-time activist residents of the block on Wesley — Joan Safford and Mary McWilliams.

Safford, of 1618 Wesley, said many homes in the neighborhood have only one car garages or no garage at all. McWilliams, of 1606 Wesley, said the two car garage would be an intrusion on the neighborhood.

But Mark McKeown, of 1421 Davis St., said every other house on the alley has a two car garage and that the plan would improve the aesthetics and functionality of the alley.

And Paul McDonald of 1419 Church St. said the planned garage “looks nice” and “I support everyone having a garage if it’s at all feasible.”

George Halik.

Land Use Commission Member George Halik said he believed the new change would devalue the coach house because of its massing.

“I think there are other solutions here, but this particular solution is not good for the adjacent residents,” Halik added.

Kiril Mirintchev.

Member Kiril Mirintchev suggested that reducing the height of the garage gable roof, to minimize the impact on the adjacent coach house, could make the project acceptable.

But Commission Chair Matt Rodgers said he favored the proposal. “I don’t buy into the argument about the loss of view” from the coach house, Rodgers said.

“Views are not part of the zoning ordinance,” Rodgers added, “and here we’re talking about the north side of the coach house. They have three other views that are totally unimpeded.”

When it came time for a vote, only Rodgers and Commissioner Jeanne Lindwall voted in favor of approving the plans while the five other members present opposed it.

That leaves the project up in the air, because it requires six votes on the 11-member commission to approve or reject a project.

Votes of members who missed Wednesday’s meeting but have read the record will be added when the Land Use Commission holds its next meeting on Feb. 23.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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4 Comments

  1. My goodness where was the outrage at 1567 Ridge,,, talk about loss of light and devaluation of property, that is 53 owners the city allowed a developer to devalue their homes. All you have to do is drive by. You’ll see evidence of this throughout the city, by the way. Complete disregard for the quality of life when it comes to what a large devloper wants.

  2. The existing garage is already close to the coach house. From the rendering, it doesn’t look like it will be much different from the current situation. I don’t see a problem with this plan. I’m surprised coach house renters have so much influence on what their home-owning neighbors can do with their own property.

  3. The current garage is ugly. The proposed garage is not. It won’t block much if any light, and we’re talking a northern exposure anyway. The coach house is a glorified garage itself. I’ve walked this alley many times. The proposed structure won’t diminish a thing. This is a case of bullies in preservationist clothing.

  4. This is a very short sighted ruling considering our community’s electric future will require a charging pedestal for electric cars that will help the entire community reach our Climate Action plan at carbon neutrality. I object!
    Respectfully, Brian G. Becharas, Secretary, Citizens’ Greener Evanston Energy Action Team.

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