A rendering of the proposed Kensington School.

Despite complaints from neighbors, Evanston’s Design and Project Review Committee voted 8-1 Wednesday to recommend approval of plans for a preschool to replace a church building in northwest Evanston.

The property at 2715 Hurd Ave. is currently the site of the Second Church of Christ, Scientist. Opposition from neighbors last year killed plans to sell the building to the Salvation Army.

The Second Church of Christ, Scientist, building.

The Salvation Army had only planned to make some modifications to the existing church building.

The new proposal would see the church demolished and replaced with a new 21,314 square foot school building with 34 parking spaces.

Neighbors objected to the previous plan saying the Army was “more of a business” than a church. And they objected to the school proposal on Wednesday saying the private preschool “was a business, not a school.”

The site is zoned for R-1 residential uses. Both religious institutions and private education institutions are permitted as special uses in the R-1 zone.

Neighbors also complained about potential traffic from the new use, especially plans to use the alley east of the site for access to the planned parking area.

Community Development Director Johanna Nyden cast the only vote against recommending approval of the proposal, based in part on concerns about traffic in the alley.

The proposal next goes to the city’s Plan Commission for its review.

It’s now scheduled for the commission’s Dec. 9 meeting, but Nyden said staff would recommend that the commission postpone the hearing until the commission’s first meeting in January because of a crowded agenda for the December meeting.

The plans will ultimately go to the City Council for a final decision on whether to approve the project.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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