Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting.

The meeting is scheduled to begin about 8:45 p.m.

Two packets with information on tonight’s agenda items are available here and here.

Meeting called to order at 8:48 p.m.

All nine aldermen and the mayor are present.

Acting Police Chief Jeff Jamraz invites community to participate in Evanston Night Out anti-crime meetings on Tuesday, Aug. 5. Details here.

City Manager Wallly Bobkiewicz announces Lakefront Arts Festival next weekend.

Citizen Comment

Mary McWilliams, 1606 Wesley Ave., says Preservation Commission has purview over changes in historic districts — concerned that they weren’t consulted about the bike plan for Davis Street.

Some speakers complain that parking for 835 Chicago Ave. is still insufficient — even with addition of offsite parking lot. (More about that project here.)

Coleen Powell, 913 Elmwood Ave., says she reuses single use plastic bags and doesn’t want to see them banned. If ban them, will have to buy other ones, bigger ones, and will increase her carbon footprint. Should have more education, rather than a ban, she says

Mark McCuen, of 1400 block of Davis, says he and other residents have come up with a compromise about the bike route for Davis. Suggesting having a bike lane, but preserve the parking. (So it wouldn’t be a protected bike lane.)

Priscilla Giles, 1829 Ashland, opposed plastic bag ban. Shouldn’t copy ban from Chicago. 

Various other people speak … generally in support of the Davis bike lane compromise.

Andrew McGonigle, 2526 Princeton, says he was on the committee that developed the bike plan, but wasn’t shown the plan before it was presented. Says as an NU employee, he believes the Sheridan Road proposal needs some further work. Concerned about losing trees on the east and west sides of street.

Also concerned about bus pull-in proposal — thinks could cause conflict with pedestrians and bicyclists.

Jonathan Perman, representative of American Progressive Bag Alliance, trade association for manufacturers and recyclers of plastic bags.

Says bag ban would impact some of the city’s largest sales tax generators. Says should use real science and facts in deciding what bag policy should be.

Bike Plan

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says resolution calls for accepting the plan as “a guidance document.”

Details in this story and the council packet.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, proposes amendment regarding Davis (on p. 12 of the packet) with implementation of the bike lane on Davis Street to be designed to avoid elimination of existing parking and avoid encroaching on existing parkway or trees. (not a “protected” bike lane, though).

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, asks who’s going to pay for the bike lanes — compared the highways.

Wilson says it’s just part of the street.

Holmes, says, yes, she’s again talking about licensing bicyclists.

Amendment passes 9-0.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, says she favors more bikes on the street, but has concerns about a number of the routes planned for her ward. Says need to work much more flexibly … may not have the perfect setting to have a separated bike lane everywhere.

Says need to have a lot more community discussion.

Bobkiewicz says this resolution is just one more step in the process — not a final plan — but call to the community that these are issues we want community to engage with. Says it’s difficult to get people interested — sometimes have to have a lot of meetings before people get involved.

Says could have more of an active role for the transportation and parking committee (which Wynne chairs) for developing this.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says resolutions have a way of moving the ball forward that may create anxiety — will be up to all of us in our wards to make sure our constituents have input.

Says she’s generally opposed to any use of parkways for bike routes — says they tend to denigrate property values.

Says resolutution doesn’t inspire a lot of public confidence at this pont.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, says she’s supportive of the bike plan. Helps improve comfort and safety. Says the bike facilities and lanes are amenities and improve property values.

Braithwaite moves to hold it, to make some amendments, but is told he can’t because it’s already been held once. Rainey says could table it, but there aren’t the votes for that.

Wilson says it’s not that cyclists or motorists are bad — it’s that jerks are bad. Says if could get along better, could save a lot of money on infrastructure.

Rainey says she’s concerned that comments and concerns of residents of her ward won’t be heard.

Bobkiewicz says he crafted the language in the resolution — says have his personal guarantee that nothing will get to the council for a final decision until it’s had a full airing.

Braithwaite now moves to table the plan until the second council meeting of September. Says wants to move through it carefully with a clear pace.

Wynne or Fiske seconds.

Motion to table fails 5-4. Braithwaite, Holmes, Rainey and Fiske vote for tabling.

Motion to adopt the resolution carries 7-2 with Braithwaite and Fiske voting no.

Consent Agenda

Items removed from consent agenda:

  • Plastic bag ban
  • Inclusionary housing ordinance (to be introduced and then held in committee)
  • 835 Chicago Ave. planned development
  • 1409 Dodge and 1825 Greenwood rezoning and map amendment

Consent agenda approved.

Plastic bag ban

Alderman Wynne says she’s struggled with the ordinance … lots of discussion and reading. Says clearly what we want is to have everyone carry their own bag to stores and not use paper or plastic. Says plastic bag ban — with a very intensive education program — is the best solution.

Alderman Wilson says there’s compelling evidence that this is not the right way to go. Says ordinance will direct people to use paper bags that have a far greater impact. It’s just a feel good thing. We’ll just pass off the environmental damage to somebody else’s back yard

If we truly cared about the environment as a whole we wouldn’t be doing it.

Aldeman Fiske says “single-use” plastic bags are actually reused. Says the ordinance is misguided. 

Says a lot of businesses don’t know it’s coming. Can’t pass along charges to customers in a competiitve market. Will make it harder to do business in Evanston.

And says it won’t address even a tiny percentage of the plastic used in businesses — most of it is coming in the back door as deliveries to the businesses.

Alderman Burrus praises sustainability coordinator, Catherine Hurley, says there are compelling arguments that this is an important thing for the community to do. Compares it to smoking ban. Says more people go out to eat now because people can’t smoke in bars.

Alderman Braithwaite says it will have a real cost to businesses. Says has heard from one grocer who’s very concerned. Says there’s a real cost to residents so he’s going to vote no.

Alderman Tendam says wishes ordinance had an education fund, but says plastic bags are ridiculous — ends up with 20 bags from a single trip to grocery store.

Says will have to buy about 2,500 bags a year to take care of his dogs … but that’s affordable.

Alderman Grover says there’ll be a year before the ordinance is implemented

Rainey asks for info on implementation.

Bobkiewicz says will develop implementation plan, wants to look into American-made canvas bags. Says issue of other film products, how those are recycled, is an open issue.

Have a year to educate, before it goes into effect … and initially for busineses of 10,000 square feet and larger …and then a year after that for the smaller ones.

Alderman Holmes says she won’t support affecting the small businesses.

Fiske asks who would be the bag police? Bobkiewicz says health department and community development.

Hurley says don’t have very good data on how many plastic bags are used in Evanston.

Braithwaite expresses concern about the $150 fine for violation.

Bobkiewicz says as with other violations, try for compliance first before issuing tickets and seeking fines.

Rainey suggests amending the ordinance to apply the ban only to the big stores and take the smaller people out of the mix (at least for now). Says the big guys who are in Evanston are also in Chicago where they already face the regulations anyway.

Grover seconds Rainey’s amendment (stores with 10,000 square feet or less to be exempt). And proposes putting the smaller stores issue on the Administration and Public Works Committee agenda for July next year.

Amendment is approved unanimously.

Vote on the bag ban as amended carries 5-4 with Fiske, Braithwate, Wilson and Holmes voting no.

Final vote on alley paving (A 6) …approved unanimosuly

Inclusionary Housing Ordinance

Rainey says will introduce the ordinance but form subcommittee to do further research on issue and bring it back to Planning and Development (probably in October).

Approved unanimously

Ryan Field scoreboards … final approval (approved 8-0, Burrus recuses herself).

835 Chicago Ave. planned development

Alderman Wynne says the site has been vacant a long time.

Says four years ago John O’Donnell purchased the lot. City wanted an office building there, persuaded him to try to build that, but discovered that there wans’t enough demand. So now have a feasible plan.

Says it will generate tax increment finanancing district revenue that will help support further improvements to the Main Street shopping district.

Says she believes in transit oriented development — says have come up with very creative solution –using a relatively vacant parking lot — which was the designated parking lot for the old building on the Main/Chicago site.

With the plan now, the parking lot will eventually be put to another use, if there isn’t the demand for the parking.

Says the development will really improve the community and she urges other alderment to support it.

Approved unanimously.

1409 Dodge and 1825 Greenwood zoning amendments

Approved 8-1. Rainey votes no. (As she mentioned last time, she’s opposed to eliminating any industrial zoning in town.)

Call of the wards

Various reminders about National Night Out events in various wards.

Rainey says 717 Howard purchase will be a big step toward creating a dining and entertainment district on Howard Street.

Fiske says animal control board is doing a great job. Will meet weekly from now until October.

Council votes to go into executive session.

Public meeting ends at 11:03 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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