Here’s a recap of our live coverage of Monday night’s Evanston City Council meeting.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

A packet with information on the agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 7:07 p.m.

City manager introduces Darrell King, water production bureau manager to discuss the “best tasting” water in the state award the city has received.

Public Comment

Thirty people signed up to speak.

Public comment ends at 7:59 p.m. Roughly evenly split between supporters and opponents of the HODC affordable housing development.

Special orders of business

SP1 – Protection of fundamental reproductive fundamental reproductive health care rights

Motion to accept and place on file approved.

SP2 – ADA transition plan report

Staff presentation

Motion to accept and place on file approed.

SP3 – New comprehensive plan discussion

Interim Community Development Director Sarah Flax says wants to combine new comprehensive plan with new zoning code.

Related story

Planner Meagan Jones says the existing 2000 plan is out of date — doesn’t address many issues that have become important since then and several neighborhood plans adopted since then conflict with the comprehensive plan.

Zoning Administrator Melissa Klotz says the zoning code has been amended hundreds of times since it was adopted in 1993. Says the code triggers excessive zoning relief requests that are time consuming, costly and burdensome.

Says hope to eliminate exclusionary practices that result in systemic inequities.

Planner Katie Ashbaugh says staff plans to publish the request for proposals on April 6, expects to seek City Council approval of a vendor on July 24.

Planner Liz Williams says RFP envisions a 24-month process in developing the new plan and zoning code.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) says happy process is moving forward — has been talking about it for two years already. Wants zoning code that won’t be a barrier to affordable housing.

Ald. Krissie Harris (2nd) says she appreciates the staff work that’s gone into the process.

Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) says council needs to wrap up its goal setting process fairly soon to have that available for the plan.

Williams says some zoning code changes may need to be adopted sooner than two years from this August.

Nieuwsma notes that that means the adoption of the plan will be by the new council to be elected in 2025.

Mayor Daniel Biss says he’s very excited — enthusiastic about the work. Says the team in place now in community development is the right team to do this — inclusive of community and on the cutting edge of a lot of issues.

Says its the opportunity to have a real leapfrogging moment.

Going to be difficult but really worth doing, he says.

Consent agenda

Off consent: A6, A12, P1, P5, P6, F1. (A6 and P1 were held in committee.)

Consent agenda approved.

A12 – Jens Jensen Garden in Evanston license agreement

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) sees an inconsistency seems to be open to major work in one section, but calls for no alterations in another.

Reid says he’s extremely supportive of the lease. Says it lets residents volunteer to maintain the gardens at the Harley Clarke mansion.

Nieuwsma says this is just a holding pattern while the city negotiates a long term lease. Deputy City Attorney Alex Ruggie says that’s correct.

Nieuwsma says it doesn’t solve the underlying issue regarding the mansion. Doesn’t want to lease out the garden without having a lessee for the mansion. But does want to get the plants in the ground this spring.

Revelle says doesn’t want to send a false signal that we know what we want to do with the coach house.

Approved 5-3. Nieuwsma, Suffedin and Revelle vote no.

P5 – Mt. Pisgah Church proposal 1801-1805 Church St., and

P6 – HODC affordable housing development at 1811-1815 Church St.

Kelly raises question about funding for the church, objects to reduction in commercial space in the housing development, various other issues.

Moves to refer both issues back to the Land Use Commission. Suffredin seconds.

Reid asks staff whether there’s a pattern of HODC providing substandard housing in the city.

Community Development Director Sarah Flax says “no.” Said has just done an inspection of 319 Dempster. Says nothing out of the ordinary found for any housing provided for tenants at this income level.

Reid says doesn’t believe its appropriate with unfounded complaints of mismanagement to tie one development to another.

Burns says he’s looked into the specifics of the Claridge property (319 Dempster) says people are exploiting the situation — says there were city first responders at the property — when the body wasn’t discovered. Says there’s not evidence of chronic mismanagement by HODC.

Says the decision to lower the height of the project made the underground parking component unaffordable — which led to reducing the amount of retail space.

Council takes a break for a moment at 9:19 p.m. to have a hallway discussion with the developer about possible options for increasing the retail space.

At 9:25 p.m. Sarah Flax says working from 1,200 to 2,000 square feet of retail can be done without asking for additional variations that would have to go back to the land use commission.

Vote on motion to refer back to Land Use Commission is 1-8 … so it fails.

Burns moves to table the item to April 10 meeting. Harris seconds.

Motion to table is approved 9-0.

F1 – Authorizing future reimbursement from GO bonds of CIP projects

(Would still require separate future approval of general obligation bond issuance.)

Kelly wants the amount reduced. Reid agrees with her.

Reid moves to reduce the potential reimbursement amount from about $17.7M to $7.7M.

(Related story covering action this issue by the Finance and Budget Committee.)

Nieuwsma says approving the resolution gives the council the flexibility to best manage spending in the future.

Motion to reduce the reimbursement amount fails on a vote of 2-7. Kelly and Reid vote yes.

Original motion to approve the measure passes 7-2. Kelly and Reid vote no.

Call of the wards

Harris … ward meeting tomorrow night.

Nieuwsma … ward meeting Wed., April 19, 7p.m. Crown on environmental sustainability.

Reid … 8th ward meeting Thursday, hybrid, at Palm House or Peckish Pig.

Geracaris.. Wednesday, 7 p.m. virtual ward meeting

Council votes to go into executive session to discuss agenda items regarding litigation, and public meeting ends at 10:02 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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