An Evanston landlord’s efforts to legalize a rooming house use on Orrington Avenue drew a negative recommendation Tuesday afternoon from the city’s Design and Project Review Committee.

Landlord Richard Dooley is seeking to have the 10-room home he owns at 1946 Orrington Ave. turned into a legal rooming house for up to six residents.

City staff says Dooley currently has administrative hearing cases pending against him for operating the property as a rooming house without city approval.

Dooley, who lives at 207 Lake St., acquired the property on Orrington at a sheriff’s sale in 1996.

Dooley has agreed as part of the rooming house application to make upgrades to the property — including installing a fire sprinkler system.

He also told city staff at Tuesday afternoon’s committee meeting that he’s recently learned of sensor devices that could be installed at the property to provide alerts to his tenants and to him at any time there was excessive noise at the property and believes that would serve to address complaints from neighbors

He said if tenants triggered the noise sensors, that would give him grounds to evict them.

Cecile McHugh, who lives at 1926 Orrington, objected to the special use request. She said the block, which has mostly single family homes, has been plagued by party noise from the large number of students living at Dooley’s property.

“The owner has been violating the law regarding occupancy for years,” McHugh said, referring to a city ordinance that limits the number of unrelated people who can live in a dwelling unit to three — absent a rooming house license.

“Now he’s attempting to continue making the same profit” McHugh said by winning approval of the special use.

The DAPR committee voted 7-3 against approving the special use. The final decision will be up to the City Council, but, before that, the proposal will get a hearing before the city’s new Land Use Commission on Jan. 12 at 7 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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