On a night during which two major agenda items passed, a slightly defensive city council still had plenty on its plate on Feb. 9. The budget and the downtown plan passed (see articles on pages 2 and 3), but not before citizens attacked some of the aldermen for their approval of the downtown plan with its 35-story maximum height at the City’s central core. Appearing somewhat beleaguered, the Council still addressed such items as health-insurance costs in the City’s payroll and economic incentives for the new Fresh Foods Market, planned for Oakton Street and Asbury Avenue. The City’s list of bills and expenses for January reflected the new costs for health insurance and benefits costs for the first time, and the increase logged in at about 11 percent when coupled with prescription drug benefits. The increase caused concern in the Administration and Public Works Committee (APW), whose members agreed to address the issue in executive session in an effort to pare costs. Aldermen approved for introduction an ordinance allowing for administrative adjudication of seat belt violations. Chief of Police Richard Eddington said that last year the department wrote about 1,000 tickets for seatbelt violations, the hearings for which were held at the Skokie court house. Fines range from $25 to $50, with about $135 additional in court costs. Keeping these violations in Evanston will in effect lower the fine amount while allowing the City to keep a larger share, aldermen said. Another liquor license lapsed, but this time the restaurant, the Noodle Garden on Chicago Avenue, remains open. City staff said the restaurant could allow patrons to bring their own bottles of beer or wine when they dine there. Council members also allowed the introduction of an ordinance to rezone the property in the 900 block of Pitner Avenue from “industrial” to “mixed use,” which, if approved, would allow residential units. Nels Johnson of Nels Johnson Tree Experts at 912 Pitner Ave., said he objected to the change because it would cause parking congestion. The Farmers Fresh Market cleared another hurdle on its long road to commencing business at Oakton Street and Asbury Avenue. The City adopted the Economic Development Committee’s recommendation to enter into a sales-tax-revenue-sharing agreement under which the store could keep 75 percent of sales tax revenues collected, up to $1 million.