The Margarita Inn, 1566 Oak Ave. (Google Maps image)

Evanston’s Land Use Commission voted Wednesday night to clear the procedural path for Connections for the Homeless to seek a special use permit for its operation at the Margarita Inn.

The commission voted to uphold the zoning administrator’s ruling that a rooming house special use issued for the property in 1974 had expired, rejecting a challenge to that decision from the building’s current owner.

And it voted to uphold the zoning administrator’s ruling that Connections’ operation of the property is consistent with the zoning ordinance definition of a rooming house, rejecting a challenge to that decision from two neighbors of the property.

The next step for the non-profit group is a hearing on its request for a new special use permit for the property that it hopes to purchase from the current owner.

LUC Chair Matt Rodgers said that at that point neighbors who have objected to the homeless shelter operation “can come before this board and ask us to address the particular concerns you have by the placement of conditions on the operation.”

Rodgers said he wants to “find out what could happen to make this property the best neighbor for you and for the people who are living in it.”

A final decision on the special use permit will be up to the City Council.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. I am saddened to hear that the Margarita European Inn may no longer be in operation. We have made an annual trip to Evanston & the Margarita for several years & have found it to be a lovely hotel that has a much nicer atmosphere than your usual hotel. We always felt that the staff were so friendly & helpful as well.
    It is hard to understand how the city overlooked the expiration of the boarding house use in 1974, and that it should not have been running as a hotel; it makes it seem like an excuse to hand things over to the homeless shelter. While I understand the need for homeless shelters, it seems unfair to take away a successful business from owners who, if the issue of the boarding house vs hotel use was true, should have been addressed years ago. I am sure the city received a lot of money in taxes over those years, and that any kind of inspections they had during that time would make it obvious that it was a hotel. I doubt that there was any deception intended by the owners.
    I actually hope that the owners get another chance & that the homeless shelter reconsiders and finds another location that does not take away a business that wants to continue offering their services to the community & travelers alike. Thank you.

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