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

A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 8:01 p.m. as the Evanston Township Board of Trustees

Minutes approved.

Public comment

Bonnie Wilson, outgoing township assessor, says hopes city will continue to provide the services of the township.

End of public comment

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz recognizes township employees, including general assistance caseworker Henry Colquitt.

Township dissolution resolution

Approved.

Town meeting adjourned

City Council meeting called to order

Mayor reads proclamation for National Public Service Week (May 4-10)

City Manager says more than 200 people participated in community cleanup over the weekend for Earth Day.

Citizen Comment

Mayor says because of number of speakers, each will be limited to just over 2 minutes.

Jonathan Nuesma, 1408 Dempster, Citizens Greener Evanston … looking forward to working on next climate action plan goal … need to have 100 percent renewable energy to achieve that.

Junad Rizki urges that water main on Sheridan Road, over 100 years old, should be replaced as part of the upcoming Sheridan Road repaving project.

Mike Vasilko, 2728 Reese, says he and wife are concerned about decision to “evict” CARE from the animal shelter

Issac Gibbs, regarding local employment program, wants stiffer penalty for contractors who don’t hire Evanston residents on construction jobs.

Anne Mallow, 2315 Hartzell, shows old t-shirt with “CARE for the Evanston Animal Shelter” on it. Reads from council minutes from 2000 that were included in council packet regarding CARE. (More on the issue here.) Says city should do everything in its power to recover the money CARE raised for shelter expansion.

Karen Strauss, 14 year CARE volunteer, says cats need a new facility. Worked to make that dream a reality. Don’t want to see that million dollars walk out of the city of Evanston. Says CARE board should be investigated for fraud.

Chuck Carrington, 825 Oakton St., thanks council for electric aggregation contracts, urges using 100 percent renewable energy.

Lee Anderson doesn’t want planned development at 1515 Chicago Ave. to remove an elm tree on the property. Calls it “a money tree.”

Ron Fleckman, 1110 Hull Terrace, favors electric aggregation agreement. 

Bill Schermerhorn, supports 1515 Chicago Ave. project. Says will be a big advance for the city “a win-win.”

Greg Hughes, 2737 Central, says favors the 1515 Chicago extended stay hotel project, especially the green roof.

Junad Rizki, suggests water fund should be split into two funds — a water production fund and a water distribution fund. Says if they do it he’ll stop coming to speak at the meetings. Suspects will show that the city isn’t making money on the system.

Matt Rodgers, 133 Clyde Ave., chair zoning board of appeals, says there are loopholes in the zoning ordinance. Someone converting single family three bedroom home into an eight bedroom two flat. Says only came to zoning board because were making a small change to the footprint. Says should require that density changes requjire a special use.

Christine Westford, 525 Grove, president of condo association there, says neighbors for the most part support the devleopment — except for the elimination of five foot parking setbacks at the lot lines.

Mike Taft, president of 1508 Hinman Presidential Apartments co-op. wants to save the tree and urges use of porous asphalt for the parking area.

(Some additional speakers oppose the extended stay hotel project, or aspects of it.)

Special order of business — animal shelter

Related story

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz introduces Police Cmdr. James Pickett who’s overseeing everyday operation of the animal shelter during the transition period.

Says 72 citizens have contacted him regarding volunteering at the shelter. In addition have voluteers from NU fraternities and sororities so will have a total of about 150 people available.

Says will have ample space for behavioral testing in the city storage facility (the former recycling center).

Says there are only three cat adoptions to be completed.

Says 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. will be shelter hours Monday through Saturday.

Also provides information on adoption hours at the shelter

City Manager says have facebook page and twitter feed up for the shelter …believes will be able to move forward with operations starting May 9, when CARE service ends.

City Attorney Grant Farrar says law department can’t ethically get into the middle of the issue regarding recovery of funds by donors from CARE.

Related story

Says state attorney general’s office is responsible for supervision of charities, like CARE.

Says, in response to question from the mayor that the City Council or a private citizen could refer the issue to the attorney general.

[Lost our Internet connection here for a bit.]

Council votes to have manager have a conversation with CARE about getting the money raised for shelter expansion and to proceed with plans to select a new volunteer animal care organization.

Consent agenda

We’ll note anything taken off the consent agenda.

Off consent agenda:

  • A7 – MWEBE and LEP program amendments (at request of city manager).
  • P3 – 1515 Chicago Avenue special use permit
  • P4 – 835 Chicago Avenue special use permit (held until May 12 meeting).

Those are the only items removed from the consent agenda.

Consent agenda approved 9-0.

Community Choice Electricity Aggregation Supplier Agreement 

with Illinois Power Marketing, dba Homefield Industries, 36 mo term, 100% renew

price per kilowatt hour … 0.07644 for first 24 months and 0.06923 for last 12 mo.

Approved unanimously.

MWEBE penalty

Increase from $100/day to 3% of contract value.

City Manager asks for additional time to gather data regarding impact May 28 meeting.

Braithwaite says this is first time city manager has pulled something from the consent agenda.

City manager says has right under city rules to participate in discussion, but not for vote.

Braithwaite says wants to see it introduced tonight. Says goal is to improve compliance rate.

Holmes says request is just to postpone second reading on the proposal from the first meeting in May to the 2nd meeting in May.

Rainey says, it’s been years, lets give them another two weeks to get it right.

Wilson says he feels he needs the additional information to make an informed decision.

(It doesn’t appear that they actually voted to introduce the ordinance, but it seems they think they did.)

Immediate adoption for Frio Gelato special use.

Approved.

1515 Chicago Ave specfial use … extended stay hotel

Rainey says developer has agreed to pay $30K for loss of two onstreet parking spaces and to pay half of the cost of reconstructing the alley behind the property.

Says city staff and plan commission support the project

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says appreciates responsiveness of developer to neighbors’ concerns.

But says allowing the developer to not have setbacks from the alley creates a precident that isn’t a good one.

Says should be using porous concrete for parking

Says the tree is the last one on the block … should be saved.

Need to start right now with environmentally responsive strategies for development.

Wilson … agrees with Fiske that developer has come a long way. But also agrees with Rainey that this project, compared to other developments, is very compliant with the city’s standards.

If keep pushing and pushing will get to the point that the development won’t work.

Next thing that comes down the road might be less compliant and desirable.

Compared to what could be done there doesn’t think that this is unreasonable.

Alderlman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, says city arborists doesn’t think the elm can survive construction, and even one of the arborists recruited by the neighbors is skeptical about its survival.

Appreciates that the developer will plant three large trees on Chicago Avenue and one very substantial new one off the alley.

Says she, reluctantly, will vote for the project.

Fiske says past proposals for this project would have been really inappropriate — very disruptive to the residential character of the block.

Says a proposal for an office building on the site was rejected by the owner of the property.

Says hotel developer has sited the building in a sensitive manner — giving residents living on Hinman a better view, rather than looking like they were looking at the rear of the Cook County Jail.

Says Wilson may be absolutely correct, something else coming down the pike might be less sensitive than this.

Approved unanimously.

Call of the wards

Braithwaite … says summer youth employment program job fair was great …students well prepared and well dressed … says program will have a great impact on youth in town. But still need more jobs.

Had over 600 students attend in one day. 

Wynne … says she’s dazzled by NU students and ETHS students participating in volunteer event.

Wilson … thanks for distracted driving enforcement program last week. “It was easy pickin’s” he says. Even though sirens every other block, they were still pulling them over.

Grover … good things happening on 1700 block of Central Street.

Rainey … happy birthday to the mayor.

Council votes to go into executive session.

Public meeting adjourned at 9:57 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation

6 Comments

  1. 0.07644 is a 47 % increase

    According to Plugin Illinois, Evanston now has the highest priced aggregation electric rate in the state. Others may be higher in the near future. Comed utility customers are paying electric rates 2.5 to 3.5 cents per kwh more than customers of Ameren Illinois utility. Much of our 47 % increase is do to the cold winter but reduced federal subsidies to green energy companies, especially the ones in wind and solar, are going to increase more in the next few years.

    We can cry about our ever increasing costs, taxes, and fees in Illinois, some areas to our east are paying 15 to 20 cents per kwh for electricity.

     

     

    1. Skip… The following is from

      Skip… The following is from a very knowledgeable source: In his words:

      "To clariify:  the new contract which will start in August is a three year contract, the first two of which are 7.644 cents/kWh and then year 3 at 6.923 cents for a weighted average of 7.404 cents.

      Oak Park just signed a one-year contract for 7.470 cents/kWh for 8% renewable (the state minimum).  We’re locked in at a lower price AND with 100% renewable.

      By the time our contract starts in August, the Com Ed price to compare is predicted by CUB to be 8.5 cents/kWh (the actual price will be announced on May 15).

      Evanston’s aggregation plan is CHEAPER AND GREENER than buying from ComEd."

      It is important to keep in mind electric prices are rising everywhere… 100% Renewable Energy Certificates are in lmited supply… We are very fortunate to have this Aggregation deal for our community!  Kudos to City Council and those involved in delivering it!

      Respectfully, Brian G. Becharas, Secretary, CGE, Renewable Energy Task Force

      1. Brian, niece try

        You have compared 2 different sets of data. You should know better. Did both cities get their aggregation deals from the same company? One got a cheaper deal for year one. We don't know who will have a cheaper deal after year two or year three. Therefore your statement that Evanston is cheaper and greener is not true in the "cheaper" part. In fact, I can get a cheaper deal for 12 months with the same company than evanston's aggregation deal for year one but it is not enough to make a worthwhile difference.

        I never mentioned ComEd as an energy creater, only as a utility. We all know that Comed cannot compete with all the new energy companies that have popped up over the last few years. They are still suffering with long term contracts. The only thing that makes green energy as cheap as it is, is the 100b plus dollars in tax payer subsidies. Just a couple years ago, people complained that the oil companies were getting 4b dollars in government subsidies. The oil companies are paying hundreds of billions in taxes while most of the green energy companies are paying little or no taxes.

        Brian, please restate your case. I would love to see cheap green energy as a real thing but it currently doesn't exist. Wind companies will never be profitable, without massive subsidies, with the current technology. Every time they build a new wind tower, it is a drain on taxpayers. Solar power only works well in sunny climates, i.e. Arizona,  but they are getting closer.

        Got to go, have a nice evening.

        1. Energy subsidies

          Skip,

          I think these two similar graphics provide a clear and concise view of what the recent history is of energy subsidies in the US, both from the Environmental Law Institute.  Renewables are not getting anywhere near $100 billion in subsidies.  http://www.eli.org/sites/default/files/docs/Energy_Subsidies_Black_Not_Green.pdf
           http://blogs.cas.suffolk.edu/amaat24/2012/02/21/clean-energy-subsidies/  The second one has the added graphic showing how China is making a huge push into renewables, way beyond what the US is doing.  

          The definition of 'Subsidy' is 'a benefit given by the government to groups or individuals usually in the form of a cash payment or tax reduction. The subsidy is usually given to remove some type of burden and is often considered to be in the interest of the public.'   Extractive fuels have long overused their subsidies.  Exxon has been the most profitable company for a long time.  They can't possibly need them anymore except to make huge profits.  

          Wall Street will not touch nuclear power – way, way too expensive with way too much risk.  The market is also rejecting coal with a large goodbye push from the government due to CO2 issues.  Natural gas is currently mainly coming from fracked sources that require tremendous amounts of water to produce – approximately 2 – 8 million gallons of fresh water per well, not to mention the unspoken waiver from EPA that allows them to not report the toxic chemicals, radioactive waste and polluted ground water that surely are byproducts of fracking.

          FYI, Germany has been increasing their renewable energy use by about 1% per year, in a climate about as bleak as ours at about the same latitude.  A home I designed last year produces enough power on an annual basis to not only power the home but also provide about 15 miles a day of driving in their electric car.  The future is here.

          Every day there are less extractive fuels available while there is more and more renewable energy being produced.  If ComEd can't compete, they should get with the program.  The writing is on the wall.
           

        2. Please see Nate Kipnis’ response

          Hello Skip… I hope the information that Nate Kipnis conveyed was helpful.

          Happy Friday, BGB

          1. I don’t belive this

            The information he gave is 5 years out of date. Direct subsidies to oil has never exceded 5b in a fiscal year. Federal subsidies to green energy peeked above 100b in 2013. and will be about the same this year. The government should spend a lot of money on green energy R&D and not spend 70% of the subsidy trying to keep wind and solar companies afloat. The current wind technology does not work well enough to turn a profit. Every wind mill built is a lose for the taxpayer. The current wind mills also kill over a qaurter million birds per month. Solar is much further along and is getting better but is only a win in a sunny southern climate.

            You should tell Nate to update his material. We should all stop campaigning against oil and coal and start pushing for efficient green energy research. If and when green energy becomes cheap, when compared to other forms of energy, it will naturally become the first choice in energy.

            It is too bad that we have a federal government that has raised energy costs for all of us.

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