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 5:45 p.m.

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

Meeting called to order at 5:54 p.m.

Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) chairs.

Six of seven committee members are present. Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) is absent.

Minutes approved

Pubic Comment

Eleven people signed up to speak.

Three speak in favor of the proposed Community Design Commission. Several oppose the proposed Legacy development on Chicago Avenue.

P1 – Plat of subdivision for 1801-1815 Church St. an 1708-1710 Darrow Ave.

Approved 5-1. Kelly votes no.

P2 – Special use for convenience store at 831 Foster St.

Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) says the store owner does not plan to request a liquor license. Also doesn’t plan to sell lottery tickets, the store owner says.

Owner says will focus on deli sandwich sales.

Approved 6-0.

P3 – Planned development at 1621-1631 Chicago Ave.

Moved by Ald. Devon Reid (8th), seconded by Burns.

Community Development Director Sarah Flax summarizes comments in opposition from about six residents.

A rendering of the proposed 15-story building. Credit: Horizon Realty Group

Jonathan Amarilio, attorney for developer, says says zoning code does permit the height requested by Horizon. Says the actual limit is 185 feet, and the proposed building is only 165 feet.

Jonathan Amarilio.

Says project is similar in height to the Albion project that is in the same D4 zoning district.

Says it will bring affordable housing to a ward that currently has none in market rate buildings.

Bob Froetscher, leader of group opposing project says city has discretion to approve, on not, the project. Says the project failed to meet standards for approval, as determined by the Land Use Commission.

Bill Brown.

Bill Brown, from board of trustees of First United Methodist Church says the plan disregards concerns of neighbors and ignores city regulations.

Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) says the project is “over the top.” Approval, she says, would clear the way for more high rises on Chicago Avenue.

Reid says he’s generally in favor of the project. Elicits from Kelly that her view the height should be limited to 105 feet.

City Planner Meagan Jones notes that the 2009 Downtown Plan was adopted by the Council, but the zoning called for by the plan was never adopted.

(In considering previous development projects, including Centrum Evanston and the Albion, the council has followed the limits in the existing zoning — not the limits called for in the Downtown Plan.)

Amarilio says that since the Downtown Plan was not codified and the existing zoning and the inclusionary housing ordinance are codified, they should control.

(It’s now 7:03 p.m.)

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) says she thinks its too tall and too dense. Is also concerned about congestion in the alley and on Chicago Avenue.

Reid suggests the Downtown Plan wasn’t “equity focused.” Says if don’t allow density downtown — where would allow density. Says it is the area most connected to public transit.

Says “what message are we sending” to people who need affordable housing if the council doesn’t honor the provisions of the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance.

Says it seems office workers likely won’t be returning to pre-pandemic levels — so need more residents to make downtown vibrant.

Nieuwsma says Evanston needs more housing and more affordable housing downtown. Says developer makes a strong argument for the project. Says long term will see more residential development downtown. Doesn’t think the traffic issues will be as bad as opponents think. Says Council is not mandated to approve the developer’s request — and in his judgment the building is too high.

Proposal goes to Council with a negative recommendation. Nieuwsma reports the vote as 1 for and 5 against. Reid votes in favor.

Committee votes to postpone discussion of item D1 – The Community Design Commission until their next meeting.

Meeting adjourned at 7:25 p.m.

City Council meeting to stat at 7:45 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. >>>Bob Froetscher, leader of group opposing project says city has discretion to >>>approve, or not, the project. Says the project failed to meet standards for >>>approval, as determined by the Land Use Commission.
    This happened with the Margarita Inn, if I get an unlicensed low-barrier homeless shelter, y’all get a tall building. No selective fairness, please.

    >>>Bill Brown, from board of trustees of First United Methodist Church says the >>>plan disregards concerns of neighbors and ignores city regulations.
    Again, this happened with the Margarita Inn, so take a tall building. At least you’re not seeing blatant disregard for established Land Use Commission regulations, or are you?

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