City Briefs

Council prepares to hear Fiske election complaint

Evanston City Council could hear arguments about this year’s contested 2005 First Ward aldermanic race as early as September, city lawyer Jack Siegel said.

Judy Fiske, who lost the May 5 election to Ald. Cheryl Wollin (1st), petitioned the council to overturn the results when she sued the city and Northwestern in May, saying NU bribed student voters with an election party and housing incentives.

If the council ruled in favor of Fiske, 217 votes — 202 of which went to Wollin — would be thrown out and Fiske would become First Ward alderman.

Wollin sat out the meeting Monday and said she would not vote on the petition.

Wollin’s lawyer, Jeff Smith, has filed a motion asking the council to dismiss the complaint.

Siegel briefed the council on the complaint during a closed meeting Monday evening. The Illinois Open Meetings Act allows officials to hold closed meetings about lawsuits against the city and about selection public officials for office.

A Cook County Circuit Court judge threw out the first count of the suit — the count against the city — in June. The second and third counts — against NU — have been removed to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, but no dates have been scheduled yet.

Condo builder to donate $38,000 for housing fund

The city will allow a developer to build single-family homes and condos on a south Evanston lot, 645 Custer Ave. — on the condition that the developer, Clearwater LLC, contribute $38,000 to the Mayor’s Special Housing Fund.

Evanston City Council approved the agreement 7-1 Monday night. Ald. Steven Bernstein (4th) voted against it and Ald. Anjana Hansen (9th) was absent.

The donation is voluntary. Clearwater also has offered to donate $150,000 to the fund as a condition for zoning variances that would allow the developer to build another condo project at 1567 Maple Ave.

Couple get final approval to build home in church

Neighbors protested Monday night as the council voted to allow an Evanston couple to convert a 101-year-old church into a home.

Troy and Kristin Henikoff plan to build extensions onto the Sherman Methodist Church, 1044 Elmwood Ave., and several people who live near the church say this will disrupt the neighborhood.

The city will also allow the Henikoffs to cut into a curb along the street for parking spaces, which neighbors called a private appropriation of a public amenity.

The project passed 7-1. Ald. Edmund Moran (6th) voted against it, saying the Henikoffs’ plan is “not neighborly.”

City increases penalty for violations of zoning code

Evanston will raise fines for zoning violations but will no longer prosecute them as crimes.

City law currently calls zoning violations misdemeanors — which can be prosecuted by a city administrative law judge or in Cook County Circuit Court. The city council voted 8-0 Monday to change the law’s language and raise the minimum fine from $25 to $100 and the maximum fine from $500 to $1000.

The law will still allow the city to press charges when zoning violations cross over into “criminal” conduct.

— Scott Gordon