Evanston residents will have a chance tonight to say what they think Northwestern University should offer the city in return for a zoning change to permit concerts at Ryan Field.
The meeting — planned at the request of several council members ahead of a scheduled Monday final vote by the city council on the zoning change — will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Robert Crown Community Center.
Objectors to the rezoning had filed a protest with the city earlier this week that they claimed would trigger an Illinois Municipal Code provision (65 ILCS 5/11-13-14) requiring that the rezoning be supported by at least six council members to be approved.
But the city’s interim corporation counsel says the state code provision cited by the objectors does not apply to a home rule municipality like Evanston that has adopted its own zoning code.
(Although the city attorney didn’t cite a specific statute in her statement, it appears she may have been referring to 65 ILCS 5/11-13-1.)
If the objectors’ argument were to prevail, it likely would render any discussion of the community benefits agreement irrelevant, since only four council members present voted to introduce the zoning change at a meeting that lasted into the early hours of Tuesday, Oct. 31.
Mayor Daniel Biss cast the tie-breaking vote to get the rezoning measure introduced.
The university released its proposals for what should be included in a community benefits agreement on Oct. 30.
That offer has a headline number of $100 million spread over 10 years.
About $3 million per year would be in cash contributions to the city’s Good Neighbor Fund. Another $2.5 million annually would go to various non-profits and targeted programs.
The school would also provide $2 million scholarship aid annually to Evanston high school students attending Northwestern, although its unclear how much aid such students currently receive.
And the university is promising that concert events at the stadium would generate at least $2 million in tax revenue annually for the city and another $500,000 for the city’s two school districts.