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

The meeting is scheduled to start at 5:40 p.m.

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

Meeting called to order at 5:41 p.m. Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) chairs.

Minutes approved, with minor correction.

Public Comment

Wendy Pollock, chair of Environment Board, supports tree preservation ordinance.

Jack Weiss of Design Evanston, supports the Community Design Commission proposal.

Janet Alexander Davis of Environmental Justice Evanston supports tree ordinance.

P1 – Protection of trees on private property

Related story.

Nieuwsma says appears are pretty close to having agreement — but still need some further guidance.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) ask whether staff wants it tabled. Nieuwsma says yes.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) says she supports the idea of protecting trees on private property. Suggests may want to have a policy document at time ordinance is adopted.

Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) asks about cost. Staffer Emily Okallau says cost is rising because of inflation, she doesn’t provide actual numbers.

Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) asks about $75 permit fee.

Nieuwsma says thinks review should be by the Human Services Committee (rather than the Environmental Board).

Burns says need good formula to determine the real cost of providing the service.

Reid moves to table until the Aug. 28 meeting. Seconded by Burns. Approved 6-0.

P2 – Text amendment package for zoning ordinance

Melissa Klotz, zoning administrator, does a presentation on the 11 proposed changes.

(Detail can be found in the packet.)

Reid proposes extending TOD areas to a half-mile boundary from the existing one-eighth or one-quarter mile. Klotz says staff supports that proposal, says it’s “best practice.”

Nieuwsma says that adds an awful lot of new territory to TOD districts.

Burns seconds.

Reid says this will allow construction of more affordable housing in those areas — and also helps reduce transportation costs for households.

Revelle says she’d prefer to have a map showing the proposed change.

Staff says could have that for next meeting, at which it would be up for adoption.

Kelly says she wants to do more review before voting.

Reid says there’s clear research that distance people are willing to walk to transit is a half mile and the change would promote affordable housing.

Amendment approved on a voice vote (no dissenting votes heard).

Kelly appears to moves to hold — says she’s has more questions.

Klotz says all the proposals are essential — that issues involving all of them have come up during the year.

Nieuwsma concludes Kelly didn’t actually make a motion. (And in any case there was no second.)

Ordinance approved on a 5-1 vote. Kelly votes no.

Discussion item

D1 – Discussion regarding Community Design Commission

Cade Sterling of planning staff summarizes the proposal.

Burns says he supports moving it forward for introduction.

Kelly thanks staff for outstanding work on the proposal.

Revelle asks about staff resources needed — seems like it would be pretty busy commission. Asks if had had commission in place for the Legacy project — what would that have looked like? Would that have tipped the scale for the Land Use Commission. “I do like the idea of having beautiful buildings,” she says.

Says would like to have something like this created as part of adopting the comprehensive plan.

Revelle says she’s OK with including non-residents who have the expertise and work here.

Nieuwsma says he’s conflicted about this. Says in city’s best interest to have firm guidelines in place. But when it comes to aesthetics its hard to quantify — who gets to decide what’s a beautiful downtown? he asks. Concerned about creating a committee that’s the “taste police.”

He agrees with Revelle that creation of such a committee should wait until the comprehensive plan is in place. Keep it in mind during the discussion, but premature to form a new commission.

Wynne says she’s the “taste police” question has come up before.

Reid says a committee like this could make the process more political rather than have a clear set of guidelines. Make Evanston potentially a more unfriendly place for people to come and develop.

Kelly says Chicago, Wilmette, Oak Park and Madison all have groups like this. “We’re just a little behind,” she says.

Burns says he doesn’t want “taste police.” Says need to rethink how to get much more broad participation. Says are only getting a certain perspective from BCCs but not tapping into as much of the community as we can. Could go either way on the issue of waiting until comprehensive plan.

Nieuwsma says looks like majority want to wait until after comprehensive plan. Kelly says should discuss it again real soon.

Reid moves to have it come back in an ordinance in three months.

Nieuwsma says he wants to press the hold button until the comprehensive plan is completed. Say thinks that’s the majority view on the committee.

Meeting adjourned at 7:38 p.m.

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

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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