Here’s a recap of our live coverage of Monday night’s meeting of the Evanston City Council Planning and Development Committee.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
A packet with information on the agenda items is available online.
Meeting called to order at 6:05 p.m. Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) chairs.
All seven committee members, except All Devon Reid (8th), are present.
P1 – Outdoor storage at Home Depot
Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th) says residents in the area tell him it’s not a big deal.
P2 – Special use for Mt. Pisgah church at 1801-1805 Church
Interim community development director, Sarah Flax, says the city acquired the property and has received a no further remediation letter from the IEPA. Says there is an impermeable barrier over a portion of the lot.
Architect for the church project, Matt Kidd, says some additional soil will be removed a new impermeable barrier will be installed and a new approval letter from the IEPA will be sought.
Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) asks how to make sure the community is safe.
Architect says change will improve the environmental quality of the site by removing contaminated soil.
Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) says he’d rather not vote on the church project until after the discussion on the affordable housing development.
Committee votes to do that.
P3 – HODC affordable housing development at 1811-1815 Church St.
Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) asks about concerns raised about traffic congestion.
HODC’s Richard Koenig says a traffic study was included in the packet. Says study, conducted in January 2022, concluded the new development wouldn’t change the existing traffic situation.
Burns says recent redesign to improve bus stop access have caused some issues. Says that will be addressed during the Mason Park expansion project. Community engagement for that project is expected to start within a few weeks, he says.
Koenig says plans to have one unit be designated as a management unit — to provide onsite supervision at the project.
Says government funding for the project dictates the structure of the project and that units are rented to tenants earning 60% or less of area median income. Says many government organizations will be involved in overseeing the project. Says requirement is to keep it affordable for 30 years, but that as a not-for-profit HODC’s goal is to keep it affordable in perpetuity.
Alexandra Ruggie, deputy city attorney, says she doesn’t believe that council members Burns and Reid have a conflict of interest, despite claims from some residents that they have one.
Burns says he is in favor of reducing the building height to four stories — which would reduce the unit count from 44 to 33 units — with 12 one-bedroom, 10 two-bedroom and 11 three-bedroom units.
That would reduce the building height from 57 to 47 feet.
City Zoning Manager Liz Williams says would require a variance to permit four stories rather than three as required by the code.
Kelly says favors shorter building but wants to see the new plan before voting on it.
Burns says it achieves the lower density that some community members have wanted.
Kelly wants the preservation commission to review the project, regarding the landmark building next door.
Burns says because its not in a historic district the appropriate approach would be to have staff review it after approval by the Council.
Nieuwsma says the issue is structural integrity and engineering review — not concerned about historic integrity issue.
Wynne agrees with Nieuwsma and Burns. Says older buildings are protected all the time in Evanston through construction management.
Kelly says a lot of people are really concerned about the amount of affordable housing in this area. Maybe should do fewer in a part of town where the land is cheaper. Says don’t want to “deepen segregation in Evanston.”
Wynne says because the project is smaller — rather than larger — there’s no need to send it back to the Land Use Commission.
Burns says he hopes the people opposing this project will turn out for the new comprehensive plan process — that can open up more affordable units across the community.
There’s a lot of double talk from the community, Burns says.
Burns also says there’s lots of open, greenspace nearby at Mason Park.
Koenig says there would be a staff member living in the building handling maintenance and a separate property manager who would have an office in the building (on one of the upper floors).
Kelly says she wants somebody in the building lobby.
Kelly asks to table the proposal until Preservation Commission can review and until have new designs for the smaller version of the project.
Burns says before final Council approval there will be revised plans, doesn’t see a reason to table it at this point.
He moves to amend the proposed ordinance to reduce the number of units to 33 and the height to 47 feet.
Amendment approved 5-1. Kelly votes no.
Vote on ordinance as amended.
Approved 5-1. Kelly votes no.
P2 – Special use for Mt. Pisgah church at 1801-1805 Church
Back to this proposal.
Nieuwsma suggests reducing height of the church building.
Architect says the height is needed for the acoustical quality of the assembly space and as an urban design standpoint. Says it fits with the height of the the historic building at midblock. Says the height steps down toward the residential properties on Darrow.
Church proposal approved 5-1. Kelly votes no.
Meeting adjourned at 8:17 p.m.
City Council to start at 8:20 p.m.
3/13 First time viewing consecutive City meetings Chan #16 starting with
P&D, I observed such high levels of thunderous anger and blaring hostility
toward City officials re agenda item. Throughout were repeated loud requests
from one Alderman for the aggressively confrontational group to be quieted.
After those unexpected outbursts of loud insults and threats toward a
couple of officials who, themselves unable to predict the level to which
such rage can progress, may now contemplate engaging services of
an “in-person” aide– A person whose mere presence at meeting entry
would likely be a deterrent to such unleashed collective and individual
aggression -perhaps a new City concept of a social worker? emotional health therapist ? Ceal H
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