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 start at 6:12 p.m.

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

The committee’s members are Ald. Clare Kelly (1st), Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd), Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th), Ald. Bobby Burns (5th), Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th), Ald. Devon Reid (8th) and Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th).

Minutes and public comment

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

Geracaris is absent.

Minutes approved.

Michael Bruening, of Evanstionians for Responsible Preservation, seeks removal of a portion of the Preservation Commission’s 2040 plan that relates to the area north of Lincoln Street. Says group fought to have the neighborhood excluded from the Northeast Historic District 23 years ago and doesn’t want that area to be included in a local historic district in the future.

Two people speak in opposition to permitting cannabis lounges.

Items for consideration

P1 – Preservation Commission annual report and Preserve 2040

Report in packet.

Preservation Planner Cade Sterling says revisions to the preservation review process has dramatically simplified the process for applicants and sped up the review process.

Preservation Commission Chair Sarah M. Dreller says the group is working on aligning the preservation program with the city’s climate action plan, affordable housing program and economic development goals.

She said the group also wants to prioritize consideration of Evanston’s settlement by different ethnic and racial groups.

Kelly says she’s excited about the neighborhood conservation efforts the commission is proposing.

Revelle calls it an amazing report — so much careful thought.

She asks about neighborhoods that don’t want to be historic districts.

Sterling says gets many questions about changes happening in the Oakton district — but city has no control because it’s only a national historic district. Says there would have to be a lot of outreach and conversation.

Says could also create a “conservation district” — a form of “preservation light.”

Regarding the Northeast Historic District, he says there’s a goal to resurvey the district — which hasn’t been done since its creation 23 years ago. Says should do it every 10 years — also in the national district, that is not part of the local district.

Says that’s a low priority for now.

Revelle says shouldn’t move ahead with expanding the Northeast District without a lot of conversation with the community.

Nieuwsma praises the report — says got a lot of work done, mostly with volunteer effort.

Nieuwsma says wouldn’t want to impost a historic district on anyone without a robust public engagement process first.

Motion to accept and place on file approved on a voice vote.

P2 – King Home, 1555 Oak Ave., conversion to apartment hotel

Hawthorn Suites would be the Wyndham brand for the project.

Hawthorn representative, Leonard Clifton, says the facility would have a restaurant and fitness center.

Hotel would have kitchenette and laundry facility in each suite.

Says the chain has 72 locations under the Hawthorn brand nationwide including six in Illinois.

Clifton says it typically draws people for seven to 10-day stays. But some will stay 30 to 60 days, especially for corporate relocation clients.

Nieuwsma says will have neighborhood meeting at 5 p.m. this Saturday at the 1555 Oak Ave. location.

Clifton says about two thirds of the Hawthorn hotels are independently managed by owner-operators.

Clifton says typically won’t go into a market unless occupancy is around 60% — and Evanston market now is a least a bit higher than that.

Nieuwsma moves to table the proposal in committee until the May 8th meeting. Committee approves that motion.

P3 – Eliminating Design and Project Review Committee

Liz Williams, of community development staff, says staff approves of the change.

Says its a first step toward developing a Community Design Commission process, potentially an 11-member commission.

Original proposal was made by Ald. Suffredin, who’s absent tonight.

Reid says new model would provide more clarity for the community and for people going through the review process.

Approved 6-0.

P4 – Cannabis consumption lounges

Reid says there’s a lot of rightfully placed concern about the use in our community of any substance that could cause adverse health effects, but says nation has come to the realization that the war on drugs has not been successful — has caused more harm than good.

Says many apartment leases bar consuming cannabis within the apartment –and minorities are more likely to live in apartments (rather than single-family homes).

Says council has said it won’t allow cannabis smoking outdoors, but its legal to smoke outdoors.

Wynne says she was on the council when the city eliminated indoor smoking in Evanston. Says there are other ways to consume cannabis — edibles. “I am a hard no,” she says.

Revelle agrees with Wynne. Says if approve cannabis lounges then won’t have any basis for rejecting hookah lounges.

Kelly says she would want more assurances regarding protection of air quality for workers. Says there are other ways to consume cannabis that would help fund the reparations program. Says she can’t support this this evening.

Reid says folks are being a bit hypocritical.

Nieuwsma says he’ll vote no. In addition to air quality and public health implications, says he’s concerned about the image of Evanston.

We don’t need a “House of Dank,” he says (saying he saw a sign in Northern Michigan advertising a cannabis lounge with that name).

Reid says wouldn’t be able to have that kind of a sign here.

Kelly asks whether Burns has a conflict of interest. Burns says he does not.

Says has reviewed it with the city’s special ethics counsel.

Kelly says she won’t support Reid’s motion to table the proposal.

Wynne moves action on the proposal.

Proposal is rejected on a 2-4 vote.

Committee meeting adjourned at 8:28 p.m.

City Council meeting to start at 8:35 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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