Some north Evanston residents petition against proposed Chase Bank drive-through

Joseph Diebold

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Some north Evanston residents are organizing to oppose a proposed Chase Bank and will take their concerns to a Plan Commission meeting next month.

The proposal includes a 24-hour drive-through that is slated to be built on a neighboring lot on Gross Point Road that is zoned for residential use. The drive-through would be located next to residential houses.

Evanston resident Megan Lutz drafted a petition against a proposal by Edgemark Development to re-zone the residential lot into a commercial property to be used for the bank’s drive-through. She lives adjacent to the property and said almost 90 nearby residents that live within 500 feet of the property have already signed the petition.

“We bought the property over 15 years ago with the reasonable assumption that the adjacent residential properties would remain residential,” Lutz wrote in a May 4 letter to the Plan Commission, co-signed by Clark Murray, who also lives at the property. “We certainly never imagined that there would be three drive-through lanes, one of a them a 24-hour ATM, proposed to be located within a few feet of our house. This development would directly and adversely affect the value of our property and our quality of life.”

In an interview last week, Lutz clarified that she does not oppose construction of the actual bank itself on the commercial lot.

Edgemark Development’s proposal came in the form of a “map amendment,” which would formally change the city’s zoning map. After the Plan Commission reviews the proposal, Evanston’s City Council will vote on the amendment, which requires a simple majority for passage.

However, if 30 percent of property owners within 500 feet of the area in question sign a petition in opposition, Lutz said a supermajority is required during the council vote. As per city codes, 75 percent of the council, or 7 of 9 aldermen, would need to approve the amendment.

Lutz said she is unsure exactly how many signatures are needed because the city provided her with a list of residences surrounding the commercial Gross Point lot, where the bank will be located, and not the residential lot, where the drive-through will be located.

“It sounds like a technicality, but if they have in the city code that a petition has to be signed by people who live within 500 feet of that (drive-through) property and they’re not giving us the list of 500 feet within that property, that kind of creates some gray area,” she said. “We’re just trying to follow the city process.”

Still, not all area residents object to the Chase Bank. Evanston resident Charles Arndt expressed his hope that the city allows the lot to be re-zoned, according to an email sent to the city’s general planner that was brought up during a May 9 meeting of the Plan Commission.

“Critics should be grateful for Chase,” Arndt wrote. “Something less desirable could turn up.”

Arndt cited improved pedestrian safety, better appearance and convenience as his rationale for supporting the new bank.

The issue will be revisited at the June 13 meeting of the city’s Plan Commission.

jdiebold@u.northwestern.edu

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