Evanston resident Jay Pritzker would like to turn the house at 300 Church Street into a bed-and-breakfast.                        Photo by Mary Mumbrue

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At the request of Sixth Ward Alderman Mark Tendam, who was unable to attend the July 9 City Council meeting, an ordinance amending the regulation of bed-and-breakfast (B&B) establishments in Evanston was held over to the Aug. 13 meeting. Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl made the request for Ald. Tendam.

Several residents who live near the proposed B&B at 300 Church St. have voiced concerns about parking, the distance requirement and even the presence of the establishment itself in what one resident termed a “fragile” residential neighborhood.

The proposed B&B, a private home until recently, sits at the intersection of Church Street and Sheridan Road across from Dawes Park. Under the current ordinance, breakfast would be the only meal provided at a B&B and no in-room cooking would be allowed. Without changing those restrictions, the proposed amendments would limit B&Bs to single-family, owner-occupied units, would allow special events to be held only once per quarter and would require a distance of 750 feet between any two B&Bs.

A B&B would be defined as an “owner-occupied, single-family dwelling where short-term lodging and morning meals are provided for compensation” located “within and accessory to an owner-occupied single-family residential structure.”

In addition, a B&B “shall be operated by an owner or owners” residing there  and maintaining it as their primary residence or shall have greater than a 50 percent interest in the property. If the property is owned by an LLC or other corporate entity, the live-in owner/operator must have greater than a 50 percent legal or beneficial title interest in the property.

The 300 Church St. B&B has won tentative Council approval, although some aldermen still oppose it. Jay Pritzker, who lives near the proposed B&B and has purchased the house, plans to vest ownership in a limited-liability company.

During citizen comment at the July 9 meeting, seven residents, all of whom live near the proposed B&B, spoke in opposition to the ordinance.

“This is a wonderful neighborhood,” said Lynne Simon. “Because it is so close [to a section of] downtown Evanston, it is a fragile residential neighborhood. … [The B&B] is going to destroy the character of the neighborhood.”

“A B&B will have an effect on its neighbors,” said Dave Reynolds. “I don’t think it will be positive.”

Linda Cooper said, “Mr. Pritzker must have liked the community as it was, because he chose to live there.” She noted the owner-occupied requirement and asked how that would be possible “if the LLC is in Los Angeles?”

When Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl stumbled over the pronunciation of his name, Robert Eagly said it was the fault of the ballpoint pen, which was running out of ink as he signed his name. His comment: “The economic aspects of the B&B would promise little more to the City than the cost of a new ballpoint pen. … It does not meet the specific economic needs of its owners or the needs of neighbors. What it does is threaten to commercialize a very thin line of residential homes.”

The eight aldermen present at the July 9 meeting all said they would be able to attend the Aug. 16 meeting, when the matter will come to a vote.