Despite opposition from neighbors to a proposed Chase Bank at Crawford Avenue and Gross Point Road, Evanston aldermen voted Monday to approve introduction of an ordinance that would allow a drive-through on the property with a special use permit.
Edgemark Development LLC has plans to build the 4,200-square-foot bank on two lots at the intersection: a former gas station at 2628 Gross Point Road and a residential lot at 2635 Crawford Avenue. In order to construct two drive-through lanes and an ATM drive-through, developers must obtain an amendment to the zoning code that permits drive-throughs as a special use.
Neighbors say they fear traffic from the bank drive-throughs will create more congestion and potential accidents at an intersection that is already busy and confusing. They also say they want to preserve the residential character of their neighborhood.
Initially, Edgemark proposed re-zoning the residential lot to construct the bank and drive-through there. The developer reworked plans, however, after more than 150 residents submitted a petition in July, opposing the rezoning, and specifically the proposed construction of the bank on the residential lot and the use of the alley between the two lots.
Under the revised plans, Edgemark will donate the residential lot to the city, which will lease the lot to the bank for parking during the day. The city will also lease the alley to Edgemark, and the bank and drive-through will be constructed solely on the lot at 2628 Gross Point Road, the former site of the gas station.
Speaking before the city council Monday, neighbors said they were still unsatisfied with the plans.
“To pretend that it’s not a bank parking lot, when it is a bank parking lot, to pretend that they’re leaving the alley when they’re talking it over—it’s just sneaky,” said Josh Huppert, who lives across the street from the site of the proposed bank.
Megan Lutz, who lives in the home next to the residential lot where the parking lot would be constructed, said she, too, did not believe the new proposal was substantially different from the original one that neighbors opposed.
“I don’t see how you could possibly see how the new plan satisfies these concerns,” she said.
Alderman Judy Fiske (1st Ward) said she sympathized with the concerns of the neighbors of the proposed bank.
“I consider alleys to be really almost sacred, especially in Evanston where we have so much commercial abutting residential zones,” Fiske said. Furthermore, she said she believed the city had a duty to protect the residential zoning code people relied on when they bought their houses, and changing zoning in one
Alderman Mark Tendam, who represents the sixth ward where the proposed Chase Bank would be located, noted that the proposal had been reduced from three lots to two lots at the request of residents.
“That is what this group of people has asked for all along,” he said. “There will be plenty more meetings.”
Tendam said a small group of people had opposed the project from the beginning, but said that overall, “we have huge support for this in the neighborhood.”
Alderman Don Wilson (4th Ward) said he saw Chase Bank as a compromise for the location, given the fact that one of the lots could legally be built as a gas station.
“To me, it’s just hard to imagine how I would want a gas station by my house over a bank, with bright lights and big signs,” he said. “That’s a permitted use.”
Aldermen voted 8-1 to approve introduction of an ordinance to amend the zoning code and allow a drive-through with a special use permit.
In order to build a drive-through, Edgemark must still apply to the zoning board of appeals for a special use permit. If the zoning board of appeals recommends approval, the special use permit will go on to the city council for consideration. As part of standard city policy, neighbors within a 500-foot radius of the affected property will be mailed notice once an application is provided to the zoning board of appeals.