City Council Rejects Residential Rezoning

On Monday 7/23/12, the City Council’s Planning and Development Committee rejected a developer’s proposal to rezone residential property near Crawford and Gross Point for construction of a Chase bank. Edgemark Development, which owns the former CITGO gas station at 2628 Gross Point, had asked the City to rezone the property at 2635 Crawford from R-2 residential to B1a business. The aldermen said they would not allow the property to be rezoned and they removed the item from their agenda.
The developer had also asked the City to repeal the ban on new drive-through facilities on Gross Point Road. Edgemark and Chase Bank wanted the zoning changes so they could put a large Chase Bank building on the former CITGO lot and a drive-through on the residential lot. The aldermen said they would be willing to consider a future proposal for a bank on the CITGO lot, but would not rezone residential property. They left open the possibility of allowing a drive-through within the business district.
Many of the nearby residents opposed the rezoning plan and earlier presented the City with a petition against it signed by more than 140 people. Several residents spoke against the plan at the Committee meeting. City staff recommended approval of the rezoning, and the Plan Commission voted 3-2 in June to recommend rezoning.
The house at 2635 Crawford (just northwest of Gross Point) was bought a few years ago by a local speculator. He had the house demolished soon after buying it, and has since been offering the vacant lot for sale for about twice the price he paid, while suggesting that it could be rezoned. The current listing price for the vacant lot is $700,000. Council Members Fiske, Rainey and Holmes all agreed that this property should not be rezoned and is not necessary for successful re-development of the adjacent CITGO property. Alderman Fiske referenced several other banks in Evanston that are successful on properties with footprints similar to the CITGO lot.
Aldermen Rainey stated that when it comes to rezoning residential to business that she "gets extremely cautious and concerned." She felt that because the developers were requesting a map amendment, a text amendment, vacation of an alley and then a trip to ZBA for a special use permit that it says to her that they chose the wrong location for their project and that she could never support this rezoning request. She would support the bank on the CITGO lot.
Alderman Fiske also referenced the amount of work that went into developing the Central Street Master Plan and that the residents should be able to rely upon the plan without having to fight to protect it.
To view the video of the 7/23 Planning and Development meeting, please follow this link: