The agenda for the June 8 City Council meeting appeared laden with controversial items, but several were removed from the agenda or simply introduced for debate at the next meeting. The result: several smaller-ticket public works projects, another denial of a proposed new liquor store, a new City fee for “seasonal food establishments,” and economic development aid to an auto parts store in need of a new façade.
A proposed ordinance limiting the number of cats to four per residence clawed its way back to the Human Services Committee, when citizen comment and Council review revealed perceived flaws. Three residents spoke on the matter during citizen comment and highlighted the proposed ordinance’s imperfection in addressing the underlying problems the ordinance sought to address, namely cat hoarding and public nuisance. Council quickly got the message. A very different ordinance, or none at all, will ultimately result.
At the request of Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, the Council and the Administration and Public Works Committee did not consider the allocation of $1.174 million for the renovation of the Clark Street Beach restroom building. Ald. Wynne said the item should be considered after a public meeting, schedules for June 17 at the Civic Center on the project.
Council introduced several items for debate next meeting, including the proposed green building ordinance and an expansion of the ordinance allowing one-day special event liquor licenses, tripling the number of licenses allowed from 4 to 12 per year.
The evening began with another meeting in which not a single item on the City’s bill list drew questions that were not answered by the memo compiled by Assistant to the City Manager Joe McRae. Aldermen send questions to Mr. McRae in Monday morning, and the memo is ready by the 5:30 start of the Administration and Public Works meeting. No questions resulted, not even about charges of more than $9,300 for “legal services” to the Chicago law firm of Seyfarth Shaw.
A&PW then approved funding for $22,000 in HVAC system repairs for the main public library, just in time for the hot weather. Software for the police department’s dispatch software, funded by the 911 tax on phone bills, passed easily. The Fire Department asked for a received authority to seek a grant to purchase a new aerial ladder truck and to upgrade its breathing apparatus equipment. If Evanston receives the grant, the City will be required to provide a 20 percent match, but Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said of the hoped-for 80 percent discount, “You can’t get a better deal.”
Ordinance allowing two new Subway restaurants, at1133 Emerson St.
and3330 Central St.
, were introduced and should be approved at the next meeting. Applicant and franchisee Moaiz Verani says it takes about two months to prepare the new space, so look for restaurants to open, if approved, in August.
Council also a permit for a sidewalk café for Fraiche Bakery at815 Noyes St
Another attempt to open a new liquor store in Evanston again failed. Unlike to recent failed attempt to open a fine wine store onDavis Street
, this effort was a more traditional package store proposed for 1615 Sherman. Because of a quirk in the City code, most liquor stores fall under the “Convenience Store” section of the code based on store square footage alone. As noted by Ald. Rainey, even if the permit allowing a convenience store is granted, the applicant must still apply for and receive a liquor license in order to operate.
Council focused primarily on the applicant’s lack of experience in voting to uphold the recommendation of the Zoning Board of Appeals to deny. Alderman Donald Wilson, 4th Ward, who served on the ZBA prior to his election and heard this case there, could be seen offering encouragement to the applicant after the vote.
At the request of the Economic Development Committee, Council provided $40,000 in economic aid to North Suburban Auto Supply,637-41 Howard Street
at Custer, for
façade improvement. Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, objected, saying the City “should at least take a look” at the 1930’s era terra cotta façade buried under the current façade. Noting that the terra cotta façade is in terrible condition, Ald. Rainey said the business owner “could not afford to renovate” if required to restore the terra cotta. In the end, Council voted 8-1 to provide the aid with Ald. Fiske voting “no.”
Finally, without any debate or discussion, the full Council passed an Ordinance requiring “seasonal food establishments,” such as food demonstrations at the farmers’ market and Northwestern athletic events, to obtain $225 seasonal licenses.