Committee proposes new zoning laws

Ben Geier

Despite a vocal contingent of opposed residents, the Evanston Planning and Development Committee introduced items to the Evanston City Council to establish new zoning laws with the goal of improving West Evanston.

The “West Evanston Overlay District” and “West Evanston Transitional District” would be rezoned for new development.

The rezoning laws would be part of the first step to revamp the West Side. The measures would create more diverse housing, but residents said new types of housing don’t adequately address the needs of the community. Instead, West Evanston residents said they need new jobs and skill centers.

“Is the quality of life improved (for residents)?” Evanston resident Roberta Hudson said. “If the answer is no, the plan is completely unacceptable.”

Others echoed Hudson’s sentiments, adding that residents felt the changes might be ineffective.

“(The item) doesn’t take any consideration of people,” said Betty Ester, an Evanston resident. Ester later clarified that while she did not live near the area that would be affected, she was still concerned about the ramifications of the zoning laws.

After extended discussion regarding the consequences of the items, the committee voted unanimously to introduce the measures to the council. Voting will take place at the next City Council meeting on Jan. 26.

During the council meeting, Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) spoke out against city spending.

Rainey was upset about the Department of Health and Human Services spending nearly $7,000 on two desks for offices in the department.

“People in our community are having trouble paying their taxes,” Rainey said. “I think that this kind of expenditure in this time is unreasonable.”

Despite Rainey’s objections, several bills were approved by an 8-1 vote.

Heated debate over proposed changes to the lakefront, including four restrooms and a bike path consumed most of the meeting. These additions were originally proposed last January as part of the Lakefront Master Plan, and are estimated to cost more than $7 million.

Ald. Edmund Moran (6th) said he supported the building of the bike path, but thought the bathrooms were expensive and visually intrusive. He said he planned to vote against the measure.

“We will be going through a revolving door where it will ultimately address, in tandem with this project, the construction of four toilet facilities,” he said.

Others on the council disagreed with Moran’s assessment.

“We’re not talking about those washrooms, only bike paths,” Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) said.

In the end, the council members were unable to agree on the cost of the restrooms, and tabled the item until the next meeting.

Even after the meeting was adjourned, conflict arose. Barnaby Dinges, a mayoral candidate, was accused of violating laws regarding the upcoming election. Elizabeth Tisdahl (7th), plans to run against Dinges.

“One of the mayoral candidates was handing out election materials right outside, in direct violation of the law not just of the city of Evanston, but of the state of Illinois, and it’s appalling,” Ald. Steven Bernstein (4th) said.

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