Although the City adopted its downtown plan more than two years ago, the changes in the City’s zoning code that would guide the implementation of the plan are still winding their way through committees, and one alderman says she believes that is stalling developers. “We have a few projects that are paralyzed because developers fear going forward on a plan [the present downtown zoning] and then being told they have to go ahead under a new plan [the zoning now in the works]. … Should we tell the developers to sit on their hands or, ‘Go ahead, roll the dice?’ ” Eighth Ward Alderman Ann Rainey asked at the Feb. 7 Rules Committee meeting.

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, said he thought the matter was clear, that developers should follow the new plan: “The last time we talked about new development, we said they [developers] would have to go under the new plan.”

“The issue has come up other times,” said Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, “and there are [legal] cases that address that issue. The wheels of government turn slowly. There is a certain law on the books, but we are moving toward changes. The development community knows the direction we’re moving in, and they’re arriving at this transition. My view is that by the time [a development] comes to City Council, the new zoning is going to apply.”

Rules Committee members agreed to refer the issue to the Economic Development Committee. “This will be a clarification, not an analysis,” said Ald. Jean-Baptiste.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...