Angry neighbors on private Edgemere Court sent architects of a new home planned for an empty lot on the block back to the drawing boards at an Evanston Preservation Commission meeting Tuesday night.

The commission voted to table the request for a certificate of appropriateness for the home at 917 Edgemere in the Lakeshore Historic District. It’s now scheduled to be considered again on June 21.

Next-door neighbor Harry Lowrance, who recently sought to have the landmark designation of his home at 919 Edgemere rescinded, said the new home would create a “canyon tunnel effect” that would obstruct his views of the lake.

A diagram from the project architects showing the footprint of the planned home at 917 Edgemere and others nearby.

And Lowrance complained that it would give his new neighbors an aerial view of anything his family and friends were doing in their lake-facing backyard.

Sue and Adam Sabow who want to build the new home at 917 Edgemere.

Property owner Sue Sabow said she and her husband Adam planned the home with a sheltered yard between the garage and the main house so their children, who are 3 and 4 years old, would have a play area that would be safe from the hazards of the lake.

She said she and her husband are long-time Evanston residents who both went to Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

Adam Sabow said that given the narrow lot, they had considered a lot of options for the design and that they believed the design met the standards set by the city’s preservation ordinance.

Frederick Wilson.

Architect Frederick Wilson of Morgante-Wilson Architects argued that the new structure would align at the street side with neighboring buildings and on the lake side it followed the natural setback line created by the shoreline. 

William McGrath.

Neighbor William McGrath, of 943 Edgemere Court, said he feared the new home would create “a race to the water” as other property owners expanded their homes to capture the best views of the lake.

Other neighbors warned the Sabows that they might need “bullet-proof glass” in the large windows they have planned facing the lake — because winter storms can toss up damaging wind-blown ice along the shoreline.

The lakeside facade of the planned home.

After the public comment the Sabows conferred with their architect and offered to make some revisions to the plans that might address neighbors’ concerns.

Without discussing possible revisions, the commission voted to table the project to provide time to develop the revised plans.

During their discussion, some commission members appeared to be disinclined to approve any contemporary-style home on the property, but others seemed to be more open to the modern design if it were given a more compact footprint.

Related story

A dispute over intent (5/16/16)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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