Here’s a recap of our live coverage of today’s Evanston City Council committee meetings.

The Administration and Public Works Committee was scheduled to meet at 4:30 p.m. and the Planning and Development Committee at 5 p.m.

Packets with information on the agenda items for the meetings are available online.

Items on the A&PW agenda include amending an agreement to sell the city’s former recycling center for a climbing gym and extending the city’s COVID-19 state of emergency to Nov. 9.

On the P&D agenda topics include whether to approve a vacation rental license for a coach house on Darrow Avenue and plans for a doggy day care on Clark Street.

Administration and Public Works Committee

Meeting called to order at 4:34 p.m.

Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, is chairing the meeting.

Other aldermen present include Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward; Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, and Ann Rainey, 8th Ward.

A1 – Payroll and bills
Approved 4-0

A2 – Amazon credit card activity
Approved 3-0-1. Suffredin abstains

A3 – Tallmadge street light poles purchase
Public Works Director Dave Stoneback says 12 lights are currently down. Ten are already on order. This purchase for $43,750 will provide 10 more.
Approved 4-0.

A4 – Extending declared state of emergency to Nov. 9
Approved 3-1. Suffredin votes no.

A5 – Designating Harbert Park as Harbert Payne Park
Approved 4-0.

A6 – One year extension of commercial, etc., waste service agreement with Groot
Stoneback says because demand has been reduced by the pandemic, the cost per customer would be higher if the city went out for new bids now, so extension of existing contract is preferable.
Approved 4-0

A7 – Extension of purchase and sale agreement for 2222 Oakton
Rainey urges rejection of the contract extension.
Says Palmhouse, which was turned down for the recycling center, is about to open on Howard Street, and the Rebuilding Warehouse, which was also interested in the recycling property, now has found another site for expansion in Evanston.
Stoneback says the city has a variety of storage needs for public works, parks and recreation and fleet services that are provided for now by the recycling center.
Stoneback says haven’t found alternate storage site in Evanston. Cost of storage could be $1/sf/mo and would need about 23K SF.
Says says may be able to expand storage at the city’s service center, but haven’t worked out details on that.

Developer Andy Stein of S Point Ventures says he’s been working on the project diligently. Says COVID has impacted First Ascent’s business, as it has a lot of other businesses.

John Shepard of First Ascent says he is still very interested in the property, but because of the pandemic, was closed for months and now is operating at about 25% occupancy. Says knows the city wants to store equipment there for the winter, and are fine with that. Says customers are eager to come back. Has been fully booked — to the capacity they’re able to handle now.

Rue Simmons asks what the city’s carrying cost is on the recycling center property. Rainey says “it doesn’t cost us hardly anything to operate.”

Rue Simmons says she hasn’t seen much interest in the project from the community.

(The YouTube video from the meeting dropped out at 5:16 p.m. in the middle of the discussion of this item. Video resumes about 5:25 p.m.)

Braithwaite suggests reopening the RFP process

(YouTube video is lost again after a few seconds. And comes back after a couple of minutes.)

Rainey says if don’t get the rock climbing place will get a strip mall if the center is sold. Says there’s no need to “have a noose around our neck” by extending this proposal.

Braithwaite suggests that if developer wants to renegotiate the price, should drop the deal now.

(And the YouTube video is lost for the third time at 5:31 p.m. Back at 5:34 p.m.)

The vote on on item A7 was taken while the YouTube feed was down.

Update 8 p.m.: Learned at the City Council meeting that this item was rejected by the committee.

A8 – Three-way stop at Foster and Dewey
Approved 4-0.

A&PW meeting adjourned at 5:35 p.m.

Planning and Development Committee

Meeting called to order at 5:48 p.m.
Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, chairs the meeting.
Other aldermen present include Don Wilson, 4th Ward; Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward; Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward; Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, and Ann Rainey, 8th Ward.

P1 – Emergency Solutions Grant recommendation
Approved 6-0.

P2 – Vacation rental license for 1131 Darrow
Johanna Nyden, community development director, asks for direction about whether to permit staff approval of vacation rentals of ADUs when there’s an owner-occupant on the property, or require City Council approval.

Property owner David Becker says he’ll have an eye on the property and doesn’t want to have people having parties there.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says ADUs were intended to add to the affordable housing stock, and if they’re vacation rentals, they won’t be that.

Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, says thinks having the issues handled administratively by staff seems reasonable.

Approved 6-0.

PDM1 – Minutes
Approved 6-0.

P3 – Revising regulations regarding animal day centers

Sarah Lewis, would-be franchise owner of Dogtopia, speaks in favor of the proposed facility at 900 Clark St. The Evanston resident says she was introduced to it while living for a couple of years in California.

Approved 6-0.

P4 – Special use permit for Dogtopia at 900 Clark St.
Dog daycare and kennel facility.

Lewis says hopes to open within 90 days of when get the building permit. So likely to open in March or April of next year.

Approved 6-0.

P5 – Major variations for a second story dwelling unit atop a commercial building at 1800 Central St.

Revelle says the plan fits very well into the area.

Wynne calls it an innovative use of air space. Says could be an interesting idea to enhance the current use of other properties as well.

Approved 6-0.

Meeting adjourned at 6:07 p.m.

City Council meeting to start in about five minutes.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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