Mandatory Reading for City Officials before Voting on Ryan Field-City Code, Comprehensive Plan and Central Street Master Plan.

Contrary to how it sometimes seems that our city operates, we do have a zoning code, a comprehensive plan and the Central Street Master plan, all which are Evanston's guiding documents to run the city. These documents are more than suggestions, they provide guardrails. Today the Evanston Rountable posted an article on elected officials' opinions on 1) zoning variances for building the stadium to become a 10 story facility and 2) changing the zoning uses in the U2  District (University District). See Council members weigh in on Ryan Field development proposals.

What I find alarming about this article and the responses of council members, candidates, and Mayor Biss is that with the exception of 1st ward councilmember Clare Kelly, not one person spoke to the important fact that Evanston has a Municipal Code. The City Code details ordinances that govern all aspects of City operations. It includes sections that establish each of the elected offices, the managerial form of government, and the City’s administrative departments. Fees for all City licenses, services and permits are set by the City Code:

Nor did most mention that the city has an Evanston Comprehensive Plan, which sets the vision and guidelines by which the City makes decisions. The Comprehensive Plan is a document which is not a long document but is a plan which people rely on: “The Comprehensive Plan is the official statement of local government policy regarding the physical development of the community.”

The Central Street Master Plan is also supposed to be followed: "The Central Street corridor plan and conceptual streetscape design will be used by the City to help guide development along Central Street. Community residents, leaders, and business/property owners participated in the planning process and gave ideas for improvements and development."

If we don’t respect and follow our plans, guidelines, and rules as set by our own documents, and if we instead sell out our neighborhoods so that Northwestern can go into the Entertainment Business and become an NU Profit Machine throwing financial crumbs to the city, then we might as well throw those plans and our code away, so no one has to follow them. Every resident and nonprofit should be afforded the same opportunity to turn their properties into money-making machines and promise huge benefits, forget about the destruction and devaluation of surrounding properties. Where does it begin and end? Do only the most wealthy institutions get the privilege of not being held to the same standards as individuals? 

Mary Rosinski