Evanston’s Land Use Commission is scheduled to consider a package of staff-proposed changes to the city’s zoning code Wednesday night — including clarification of the standards for approving planned developments.

A memo from Community Development Director Johanna Nyden says the current standards for planned developments — large-scale projects that generally draw considerable public interest — are not as clear as those for other reviews — including major variations and special uses.

The existing language calls for planned developments to meet “specific standards established in the zoning district for which the planned development is located.” But, Nyden says, the zoning district regulations don’t expressly state any additional standards for planned developments.

Nyden is proposing that since planned developments are a type of special use, the nine existing standards for special use approval should continue to be applied.

She also suggests using six new standards:

  1. The requested Site Development Allowance(s) will not have a substantial adverse impact on the use, enjoyment or property values of adjoining properties that is beyond a reasonable expectation given the buildable potential of the Planned Development location.
  2. The proposed development is compatible with the overall character of existing development in the immediate vicinity of the subject property.
  3. The development site circulation is designed in a safe and logical manner to mitigate potential hazards for pedestrians and vehicles at the site and in the immediate surrounding area.
  4. The property owner would suffer a particular hardship or practical difficulty as distinguished from a mere inconvenience if the strict letter of the regulations were to be carried out.
  5. The proposed development aligns with the current and future environmental goals of the City.
  6. Public benefits that are appropriate to the surrounding neighborhood and the City as a whole will be derived from the approval of the requested Site Development Allowance(s).

The proposed “omnibus” package of text amendments to be discussed by the LUC also include updating Americans with Disability Act parking regulations, establishing regulations for billboards and adding auto body shops to the list of special uses in the I1 Industrial/Office District.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Planned developments are a poison. They purposely dodge full zoning requirements and procedures. In Wilmette a planned use development led to the construction of a hotel adjacent to residential properties. This greatly diminished the resale value of abutting properties. I know, I got out just in time. Others have struggled to sell their homes. The Village president who promised no decrease in property values was dead wrong.

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