Property tax attorney Richard Schapiro goes before Evanston’s Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday evening seeking a special use permit to legalize his use of two Victorian homes as offices for his practice.
Schapiro has used the homes at 1327 Chicago Ave. and 528 Greenwood St. as offices for decades and now has more than 40 employees who work out of the two buildings.
Office uses in the area’s R5 zone require special use approval, but city staff apparently weren’t aware that Schapiro hadn’t sought the approval until a neighbor complained about two years ago.
He also apparently never informed county tax officials of the office use — which allowed the properties to be taxed at lower residential rates.
Community Development Director Johanna Leonard, in a memo to the ZBA, says that the city’s Planning and Zoning staff has recommended against approving the special use arguing that it “is not in keeping with teh purposes and policies of the adopted comprehensive general plan, causes a negative cumulative effect and diminishes the vlaue of property in the residential neighborhood.”
528 Greenwood St. (Google Maps)
However the city’s Design and Project Review Committee recommended approval of the special use at a meeting last November.
Leonard is recommending that — if the ZBA approves the request — it include conditions that would require providing building modifications, including a mechnical lift from ground level to the first floor of the building at 1327 Chicago Ave. to improve accessibility.
Schapiro has opposed making those improvements, saying the would add $75,000 to $100,000 to the cost of the project and detract from the residential appearance of the properties.
Leonard is also requesting that any approval be conditioned on proof that Schapiro has submitted documentation to the county assessor’s office documenting the nonresidential use of the property for the period since the office use began.
The Zoning Board of Appeals will make a recommendation to the City Council which will make the final decision on the special use request.