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Recap: Planning and Development Committee

Here's a recap of our live coverage of tonight's meeting of the Evanston City Council Planning and Development Committee.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m.

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

Meeting called to order at 7:18 p.m.

Aldermen Fiske and Burrus are absent.

Minutes approved.

Items on tonight's agenda: 

P 1 – Amending distance from lot line rules for air conditioning equipment.

Community Development Director Mark Muenzer says ordinance would change the distance limit from 10 feet to 8 feet, or 6 feet with landscaping. Says AC units are becoming quieter and that city is getting a large number of variation requests — almost all of which, in the end, have been granted.

Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, asks what happens if could be in back yard but prefers to put in side yard? Muenzer says ZBA usually takes that into account in deciding requests for variances.

Approved.

(Alderman Fiske arrives.)

P 2 – Amending zoning ordinance to create a business or vocational school use.

Muenzer says city has traditionally treated business schools as office uses. Says need to have special classification, distinct from colleges and universities. Are amending the code as well to eliminate confusion there.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says she doesn't think they should be permitted in residential districts. Muenzer says public education uses are permitted uses in residential districts. But says may need to revisit the idea.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, raises question about Kendall College and its conversion to culinary school. Says she tends to agree with Rainey that it's not appropriate in a residential neighborhood. Also concerned about parking. But says she'd be OK with leaving it a special use in residential neighborhood.

Says people who live in multi-family building should have same right to living in tranquility as those who live in nice single-family neighborhoods.

Rainey says if it's a special use then neighbors have to come out and fight it. Doesn't want them to have to do that.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, says she tends to agree with Rainey. Says a vocational school could work very well in many districts in the city, but would eat away at the value of residential neighborhoods.

Rainey says every other district –other than residential — would still have trade schools as a permitted or special use.

Amendment approved unanimously.

Committee fails to vote on the zoning change, but chair (Ald. Wynne) assumes it was approved.

Discussion item

PD 1 – Disclosure of landmark and historic district properties

Muenzer discusses efforts to make sure that people buying properties that are landmark properties or in historic districts are aware of the restrictions those distinctions impose.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, asks how many properties are involved. Muenzer says there are 1,900. About 900 are landmarks, about 1100 to 1200 properties are in historic districts but aren't landmarks.

Carlos Ruiz says about 250 landmark properties are located outside historic districts.

Wilson says might start by recording landmark notices for properties that are not in historic districts.

Cost is apparently $40 for each of the first two pages and $2 for every additional page.

Grover says she believes that ultimately need to record at recorder of deeds office so people have notice that they're buying a landmark property.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says thinks should deal with historic districts as a whole.

Says she wants to know how many properties are in national register historic districts in the city that aren't in local historic districts.

Fiske suggests realtors association might be approached to include landmark designation in listing forms.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, suggests city try to force homeowners to record the landmark status.

Fiske says the city imposed the designation, requiring homeowners to pay for it wouldn't be fair.

Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, says owner has very little input into what information the brokers give the buyers. Should approach the brokers about it. Or get legislation from Springfield to require the disclosure.

Muenzer says staff will report back with proposal based on advice from committee.

Meeting adjourned 7:50 p.m.

City Council meeting to start at 8 p.m.

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