Council weighs zoning, bed and breakfast

Susan Du

Although township dissolution was a priority issue at Monday’s Evanston City Council meeting, members also discussed zoning for a multifamily dwelling and allowing special use for a bed-and-breakfast.

Mike Rourke, the owner of the development project located at 2500 Green Bay Rd., attended the planning and development committee meeting to recommend the adoption of an ordinance that grants zoning relief for his multifamily dwelling, which is under construction. The current zoning code in the R5 general residential district allows a maximum of nine units and requires a minimum of 18 off-street parking spaces, but Rourke asked committee members to allow the construction of 12 residential units and permit 15 on-site parking spaces.

Committee members moved to remove the requirement for an extra three parking spaces.

Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) commended the project for taking advantage of “foundation in need of development,” while Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) agreed to allow 15 parking spaces because the families that Rourke expect to move into the dwelling would not own many cars.

“It doesn’t make sense to require there be enough parking spaces at this point,” Wilson said.

In the case of an application for special use for a proposed bed and breakfast at 300 Church St., the council had previously voted 7-2 against it. Andrew Scott, an attorney representing Evergreen Manor LLC, attended Monday’s meeting to propose an ordinance in response to the council’s concerns that the majority owner of the bed and breakfast, James Pritzker, does not plan to live on the property and operate it himself.

Council members asked that Pritzker have a ownership interest in the limited liability company in order to apply for special use for his bed-and-breakfast. Scott proposed that the owner-occupy rule not be restricted to the minority owner, who plans to operate the business in place of Pritzker.

Rainey expressed concern about how changes in the bed-and-breakfast’s owner-occupant might create unnecessary risk for the business.

“If there’s any change in the owner-occupant, we need to confirm it with the council,” she said. “The restriction out to be that the owner-occupant needs to occupy the premises at all times.”

On the other hand, Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) said her primary concern is that Pritzker himself will not live on the property. She suggested to council that special use for the bed-and-breakfast be tied to Pritzker’s ownership of the business.

Wilson amended her motion to include the provision that if Pritzker were to divulge ownership of the bed-and-breakfast, the current operator could continue to work as long as she remains an owner-occupant. The motion was approved as amended.

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