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Recap: City Council

Rezoning a block of Orrington Avenue and creating more options for accessory dwelling units were among the items on tonight's City Council agenda.

Here’s a recap of our live coverage of this evening’s Evanston City Council meeting.

Aldermen are scheduled to vote on downzoning a block of Orrington Avenue and providing more options for building accessory dwelling units in the city.

The meeting was scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m., but because the Planning and Development Committee ran over, the Council meeting now is scheduled to start at 6:15 p.m.

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

Meeting called to order at 6:21 p.m.

Mayor Steve Hagerty says the city manager search brought about 70 applicants. City Council has chosen four applicants as semi-finalists who will be interviewed on Friday in an executive session meeting that will start at 8:45 a.m.

There will be an opportunity for the pubic to meet with finalists online after that.

On the pandemic, Hagerty says the city is doing well, is at 1.7% on the seven-day positive rate, compared to 3.6% for the state. Related story. Says 10-day moving average for Northwestern students is 0.35% — lower than the city-wide rate.

Praises the “Behind the Mask” contest produced by young people running through Oct. 26. (Runs brief video promoting the event.) Email [email protected] for info and entries. More in the city’s Thursday newsletter.

City clerk Devon Reid says early voting begins at Civic Center on Oct. 19.

Public Comment

30 people signed up to speak. (Later reduced to 23 people.)

Public comment ends at 7:28 p.m.

Special order of Business

SP1 – Barn at 2402 Ridge
Appeal of preservation commission denying a certificate of appropriateness.
Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, moves consideration, but fails for lack of a second.

CONSENT AGENDA

Items removed: A5 (removed from agenda in committee, so no action here), A8, A10, A11, A15, A16, P1, P2 (tabled until Nov. 9), P5.

Consent agenda approved.

A8 – Renaming Harbert Park as Harbert Payne Park

Alderman Peter Braithwaite,2nd Ward, moves to hold until the next meeting, Oct. 12 so family of Betty Payne can be present.

And it’s held.

A10 – Designation Dodge Avenue from Lake to Church Street as “Black Lives Matter Way.”

Braithwaite thanks the coach and student athletes and others involved in the process.

Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, thanks everyone who participated in the painting project.

Approved unanimously. Related story.

A11 – Amending the amusement tax

To include online streaming services, including ones delivered to mobile devices.

Alderman Tom Suffedin, 6th Ward, says he will abstain because one of his clients has an interest in it.

Applies to Netflix or Hulu and other streaming services, says Interim City Manager Erika Storlie, wouldn’t be charged to students for educational materials.

Approved 7-1-1. Fleming votes no. Suffredin abstains.

Reconsideration of P4 to take it off the previously approved consent agenda
Rue Simmons notes it was not mentioned in the list of items removed.
Approved unanimously.
To be discussed separately shortly

A15 – Infrastructure Maintenance Fee
For electric service. Is a “double tax” issue for about 18 months in the transition, because existing fee is collected in arrears. Not having the overlap would cost the city about $480K.
Fleming says any fee seems like a big fee to some people. Suggests adding info about it to the water bill mailing.

Approved 8-1 Fleming votes no.

A16 – Franchise service administrative fee
Kumar Jensen of city staff says will be a cost savings for smaller commercial accounts, but bigger customers will pay somewhat more.
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, questions adding the new hire proposed by this — given all the layoffs in the city.
Storlie says it will be part of the budget discussion next month.
May postpone the hiring until midyear so know that the funding stream is coming in.

Approved 8-1 Fleming votes no.

P1 – Landlord-Tenant Services contract
Approved 9-0.

P4 – Map amendment at 1910-1946 Orrington and 714-716 Foster.
Fiske moves removing 714-716 Foster from the amendment.
Rainey seconds that
Vote on amendment carries 9-0.

Rue Simmons says need to do a lot of work to address the concerns of the neighbors. Asks Fiske how this addresses the issues.
Fiske says see developers and investors are not buying properties in R1 zone. Are targeting R4a, T2, R5 areas close by.
This is not about students, per se, its about absentee landlords, Fiske says, and the problems of lack of supervision, puts neighbors in position of having to monitor the houses for bad behavior.
Says are just trying to preserve the residential character of the block. Once investors and absentee landlords are present it makes it hard to get families to buy in the neighborhood.
Says its exhausting to have neighbors have to be on the lookout for special use permit requests.

Rue Simmons says this zoning change request doesn’t solve the bad habits and property standards issues. Says its difficult to support any R1 zoning understanding how that’s impacted racial disparities.

Suffredin asks why we tolerate NU position that they can’t control student behavior. As city want to move away from R1.

Fiske says when students are off campus it’s the city’s responsiblity, not Northwestern’s, that’s what they’ll tell you.

Suffredin says NU has the ability to sanction students for bad behavior whether on or off campus.

Ordinance fails on 4-5 vote. Votes in support came from Revelle, Rainey, Fiske and Wynne.

P5- Accessory Dwelling Unit regulations

Revelle says she will abstain because she’s a member of the EDC.

Approved 7-0-1, with Revelle abstaining. Fiske was absent for this vote.

Call of the wards

Rue Simmons — National Night Out Oct. 6 at Twiggs Park. Food trucks. History hunt around ward, etc. Asks staff to hire consultant to re-TIF the west end TIF. Could add in properties that could be supported by TIF. Wants to have meeting with NU President Schapiro re neighbors’ concerns.

Suffredin — Oct. 15, 6th Ward meeting on budget.

Fleming — wants to see renters included in notices regarding development projects, rather than just to homeowners.

Braithwaite — National Night Out at Mason Park Oct. 6.

Wynne — Sorry we let down the residents of the 1900 block of Orrington.

Wilson — Robert Crown Center dedication on Saturday Oct. 3.

Council moves to go into executive session to discuss personnel.

Public meeting ends at 8:48 p.m.

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