Demands from lakefront residents for ever more restrictive limits on bed and breakfast establishments appeared to backfire at the Evanston City Council Monday.

The aldermen voted 7-2 to reject a package of amendments to the city’s bed and breakfast rules that were the result of months of negotiations.

Only aldermen representing two lakefront wards, Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, and Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, voted for the ordinance.

The rejection came after Frank Cicero of 222 Lake St. and other speakers demanded that the city bar anyone from having an ownership interest in more than one B&B.

Such a provision would block what some neighbors believe is a plan by Col. James Pritzker, who last year won approval to open a B&B at 300 Church St. on the lakefront, to open any additional ones here.

Cicero, an attorney, also argued that letting bed and breakfast establishments be owned by limited liability companies would create a loophole to the one-per-owner concept.

But some aldermen said having ownership in a LLC or other corporate form was a key measure to protect owners from lawsuits and barring that option would make owning a bed and breakfast prohibitively legally risky.

Some speakers, including Alice Eagly of 324 Davis St., said they enjoyed staying in B&Bs themselves while traveling, but that they wanted the establishments to be few and far between here in Evanston.

Alderman Fiske, defending the proposed restrictions, called B&Bs a commercial intrusion on a single family neighborhood.

She said the idea of letting someone have an ownership interest in more than one would be contrary to what she described as the original concept of a B&B — was an owner-occupant, live-in situation.

But Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, asked whether the city could legally limit someone to owning one pet store or other business in town.

And city attorney Grant Farrar said such ownership limits would raise serious equal protection and due process issues that he wasn’t prepared to address immediately.

Despite the rejection of the proposed ordinance, it appeared that efforts to impose new regulations on bed and breakfast establishments might resume this fall after the aldermen return from their late-summer recess.

Related stories

Evanston aldermen may put B&B issue to bed (7/9/12)

Do B&Bs threaten Evanston neighborhoods? (6/19/12)

Evanston panel trims B&B separation rule (5/16/12)

Panel votes to limit B&B ownership (1/18/12)

Aldermen approve lakefront B&B plan (9/13/2011)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Evanston leaders are overregulating and spending too much

    Aldermen Jusy Fiske and Melissa Wynne are the perfect example of how our city leadership think they know better than the rest of us.

    How in the world can anyone in an elected government position even entertain a thought to limit the number of businesess one person can own. I understand Fiske owns a pet store. Should we limit Fiske to owning only one pet store in Evanston?

    Several weeks ago the Plan Commission voted to shrink home expansion options.

    Aldermen Rainey looked into complaints that a homeowner was renting her home with short-term leases. The city ended up kicking one of the renters out and placed a sign in the homeowner's yard, warning that the home was operating a rooming house and was in violation of a zoning ordinance. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the City of Evanston from prosecuting the Evanston homeowner. Isn't there a better way to handle this issue?

    A special committee just approved a new rental license for all Evanston renters that includes an annual fee, and a city inspection needed before a license is issued.

    Then we have the City Council spending taxpayer's money on a few lucky businesses like Trader Joe's, the Eighth Ward Wine Bar or Bonnie Management that owns the Plaza Shopping center in which it will get millions from the city to upgrade the 25 year old shopping center though a TIF. I can name a half dozen other Evanston strip centers that also have high vacancy rates and could use a TIF.

    I hear now Aldermen Burrus wants to regulate playsets in our backyards.

  2. Why not zone it?

    Isn't this precisely what the zoning board does? In other words, the affected areas could be zoned residential only and would thereby exclude any commercial development. Or am I missing something?

    1. Zoning laws

      A B&B is listed as a special use in residential districts, meaning that it is permitted with approval by city council after a hearing before the zoning board of appeals. One of the standards the ZBA must apply is whether or not the special use will have an adverse impact on the neighborhood when considering all other special uses. If someone applied to have a B&B open next door to an existing B&B, then the zoning board could say that two B&Bs that close to one another can create an adverse impact. However, no matter what the ZBA finds, the final decision rests with council.

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