Before the April 27 City meetings began, residents and City officials celebrated Evanston’s being the U.S. Earth Hour City Capital. Photo from City of Evanston

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The evening that began with a celebration and continued with awards ended with aldermen wishing Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl “Happy Birthday.” In between, aldermen approved bills, purchases, appointments, the 1620 Central St. development and all the liquor licenses introduced at the previous meeting.   They also dealt with two issues that had rankled parts of the citizenry: a proposed ordinance regulating “personal service” establishments and one limiting the on-street parking of recreational vehicles.

Awards

Lara Biggs of the water department presented certificates to four students for their winning artwork in the City’s Drinking Water Week art and photo contest. (See story on page 1).

The City recognized employees who had achieved work milestones of five years or more.

500-Foot Rule

An ordinance that would have required a special use permit for a “personal service” business that wished to locate within 500 feet of another such business was on the agenda of the Planning and Development Committee.

Speaking as a representative of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, Dick Peach said, “The business community is not really in favor of the ordinance. … Why are we doing this? There is a lack of evidence that this is a problem. The business community is in major favor of letting the market take care of this. …”

Agreeing, Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said, “Along the lines of what Mr. Peach said, I’m not sure why we’re doing this. I haven’t heard any complaints.”

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said, “This is an issue that City Council raised 2½ or 3 years ago. There was a draft ordinance presented to Council, which was referred back to the planning staff. It has arisen from a problem, but perhaps the specific problem has passed.”  He also said the ordinance is “an interesting comment on community standards.”

On the motion of Ald. Wilson, the committee members voted not to move the proposed ordinance on to City Council.

1620 Central St.

Council also approved the 47-unit apartment project at 1620 Central St. on the consent agenda. During citizen comment, two residents spoke against Council’s having relaxed the parking requirements in the zoning code for the project. Both said that parking on Central Street is already scarce, which affects residents and businesses as well as their customers.

Carl Bova said, “Residents are being denied parking; employees can’t find it; customers can’t find it. When the Evanston Art Center moves there, and with Ten Mile House restaurant, what little parking [there is] will be exhausted. There is no reason for this Council not to require the 72 [required] spaces at 1620 Central.”

Noting that there is a parking lot west of the Metra tracks but nothing comparable immediately east, Mary Rosinski said, similarly, that the City “should have a long-term plan for parking.”

Recreational Vehicles

Recreational vehicles will soon be regulated by City ordinance; owners will need a permit to park them here, and the City will have the authority to tow illegally parked RVs. Owners will have to purchase a three-day permit for $50, during which they can park their RVs in front of their residences or in a City lot. The fine for violating the ordinance is $100 per day for up to five days. After five days of violation, the City may designate the RV as an “obstruction in the Streets and a public nuisance,” according to the ordinance, allowing the City to have the RV towed.

In answer to a colleague’s question, “Do we have a problem?” Second Ward Alderman Peter Braithwaite said, “Yes, we have a problem.” The problem appears to be one vehicle in one part of town.  Rickey Voss, parking and revenue manager for the City, said “This came to be a question last year. We had one RV that was going from site to site, blocking houses and blocking businesses. We had calls of RVs Citywide parked on streets.  We need these permits to have better control.” He also said that the City will notify drivers of out-of-town RVs that are parked in Evanston for a day or so.

At City Council, John Mintier, who lives on Foster Street, said he was concerned about how the ordinance would affect his neighbor, a disabled veteran who has a converted van. He said that, as a senior citizen, he finds himself leaning toward Libertarianism. “If we need a law for RV parking … when you don’t see too many around, then maybe we’ve got too much government.” The ordinance passed on the Council’s consent agenda.