Opposition to Chase Bank Drive-Through Swells

Neighbors of a proposed Chase Bank at Crawford and Gross Point hope the city will reject the bank’s plan to build a drive-through.

Well over 100 people have signed a petition opposing construction of a Chase Bank drive-through at Gross Point Road and Crawford Avenue in Evanston—and the fight against its construction is just heating up. 

At a hearing Wednesday night, members of the city’s Plan Commission voted to continue the discussion to the commission’s next meeting, after neighbors successfully argued that the city had not properly notified residents within a 500-foot radius of the site. 

Edgemark Development has purchased two lots in order to construct a Chase Bank at the northwest Evanston intersection: a former gas station at 2628 Gross Point Road and a residential lot at 2635 Crawford Avenue. As required by city code, planners sent notifications to residents within a 500-foot radius of the Gross Point Road address—but not to residents within a 500-foot radius of the Crawford Avenue property. 

“I could see there were a few houses on Hillside that should have been included, and some on Crawford,” said Crawford Avenue resident Joshua Huppert, who brought the issue to the Plan Commission’s attention Wednesday. 

Commission members said they believed he had a point.

“I have all kinds of sympathy for staff planners who have to deal with this kind of stuff, having been one,” said Plan Commission member Jim Ford. “But the subject property clearly includes the 2635 Crawford address.” 

Given the improper notification, the commission voted to re-notify residents before taking up the issue again at its next regularly scheduled meeting, 7 p.m. June 20, at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center. 

Opposition to the drive-through

Neighbors who oppose the drive-through say their real issue is not with the city’s notification procedure, however, but with the bank’s plan to build a drive-through adjacent to a residential lot. 

In a letter to their neighbors, Crawford Avenue residents Megan Lutz and Clark Murray cite concerns over traffic and their desire to preserve the neighborhood’s residential character as the basis of their opposition. 

Developers for Chase Bank are seeking permission from the city to rezone the residential lot and build a drive-through at the site — acts that would ultimately require City Council approval. 

“The 3-way intersection of Crawford, Gross Point and Central is already one of the most dangerous and congested intersections in Evanston,” the letter reads. “More traffic on the major streets will lead to more traffic on side streets as drivers look for short cuts and try to turn around.” 

Additionally, neighbors want to protect the residential character of their neighborhood. Lutz and Murray live in the house just west of the residential lot Chase Bank purchased — meaning the drive-through would back up to the side of the home they’ve owned for the past 15 years. 

“They bought it knowing they were surrounded by residential properties,” said Mary Summerville, a realtor who attended the meeting to speak on behalf of Lutz and Murray. 

Summerville came to rebut the opinion of an appraiser hired by Chase Bank, who told the commission at an earlier meeting that the drive-through would have no effect on property values. 

“I’m saying, of course it does,” Summerville said. “Think about it.”

Pointing to the layout of the proposed bank on a map, Summerville showed how the lights of cars turning into the 24-hour drive-through would shine into the windows of Lutz and Murray’s home. 

The couple and their neighbors don’t oppose the bank itself, but hope the city will not approve the drive-through or the rezoning of their neighbor’s lot to commercial. If they collect signatures of at least 30 percent of the property owners within a 500 foot radius of the Chase Bank property, any zoning changes would require approval by 75 percent of City Council members.

So far, Lutz and Murray have collected signatures from 90 people who live within 500 feet of the property, and a total of 130 signatures. 

“Zoning is to create zones to protect residents,” Lutz said. “We hold that that is a residential property,” 

According to Lutz, the last time the city rezoned a property from residential to commercial was in 1997, for a at Main Street and Dodge Avenue.

Ironically, the former resident of the Walgreens site moved to a home on Crawford Avenue — directly across the street from the proposed Chase Bank drive-through. 


Editor's Note: A previous version of this story had incorrect information about ownership of the lots. They were purchased by Edgemark Development LLC. We sincerely regret the error.





Richard Schulte May 11, 2012 at 12:45 PM
"Well, there you go again." Ronald Reagan Is there any change in an existing business that the citizens in Evanston won't oppose? It's like a sport in Evanston-oppose any plan for a business improvement. In an economy like this, any plan for a capital project, regardless of how small, should be welcomed with open arms. It's that "I've got mine and screw everybody else" attitude that finally got me to leave after living in Evanston for 29 years and move to Florida. Evanston residents won't be happy until they have destroyed the entire tax base.
millie May 11, 2012 at 01:21 PM
City could buy that property out of the parking fund and lease it to Chase.
michael May 11, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I live on Central Street by Crawford and who says this area has "already one of the most dangerous and congested intersections in Evanston,” l want to know what are the statistic's for this intersection. I am in favor of this build out. Chase has always been a good neighbor. Ask them to put up a fence so the "many" headlights do not "shine" on your properties. That all area looks like it could use a good re-do anyways. Look at some of the homes and properties.
Faith May 11, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I'm in favor of this build out as well. I go past this intersection every day, multiple times a day, because I work near there. That corner has been vacant a long time and is an eye sore. I've lived in Evanston for 36 years; however, I'm getting pretty darn tired of this "not in my backyard" mentality. There was a lot of hullabaloo about the development of the southeast corner of Central and Crawford and the Starbucks going in there. A lot of people in the neighborhood against it. Well, it's done just fine, hasn't it? This is about what's good for everybody, not just a group of people in one neighborhood. We need businesses to want to stay and invest here, not chase them away. No pun intended.
J May 11, 2012 at 04:10 PM
1) Much opposition could be resolved if Chase reworked the drive-thru to make the ENTRANCE on Crawford & the EXIT onto Ridge, vs. the other way around as it is now. That would also be better for cars: hey'd exit toward the stoplight & could then turn any direction, rather than all exiting northbound on Crawford & needing to turn around to get where they're going. 2) Many local residents (silent majority?) DO want the Chase. There's a neighborhood blog with a lively discussion on this topic. Please be more even-handed in your coverage! Also the land is owned by Edgemark. Proposal is for long-term LEASE to Chase. 3) Most opposition to Chase is from adjacent neighbors who want their street to stay residential. Probably not realistic, given Ev's need for economic development; the fact that this is already a busy major artery, well-suited (destined?) for retail; & the fact that the Citgo lot needs a high-end developer w/$$ to clean up underground tanks, who may in turn need to build a bigger business to make their investment pay off. 4) Opposition mostly relates to concerns that there would be huge drive-thru traffic. Yet, the same people argue that drive-thru's aren't needed b/c they're becoming obsolete w/ the increase in online banking. Contradictory arguments. How about some data to sort out the truth? 5) Sidewalk on e. side of Crawford & a light @ Thayer would help w/pedestrian safety concerns. Chase could help pay for these as a condition of plan approval.
keli May 11, 2012 at 04:18 PM
I live just off of Central Street and drive through this intersection every day and I think the traffic backup from the Starbucks is terrible in the mornings! I am for a bank on the corner where the gas station was, but I question why they need the residential lot next to it. Can't they build a small bank that fits the area like the Harris Bank on Central? I hate to think that because the housing market is bad right now, that companies can come in and start buying residential properties when there are already so many vacant business spaces already.
Jennifer Fisher (Editor) May 11, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Hi J, Thanks for this information. Could you post a link to the neighborhood blog? We certainly want to be even-handed in our coverage, so we'll keep an eye out for supporters in the future. And for anyone with a strong opinion -- please feel free to get in touch with me at evanston@patch.com or write a letter to the editor.
millie May 11, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Sounds like good use for a piece of Vacant Land. Should increase the Property tax Revenue for the city. Create Jobs
Jim Osburn May 11, 2012 at 09:38 PM
With today's news ("Chase loses two billion dollars") are they going to be a corporate taxpayer that we can count on? It wasn't that long ago that Washington Mutual was sprinkling branches all over, too.
annie May 11, 2012 at 11:59 PM
How many banks & branches do we really need in e-town? I say skip Chase at Gross Point and Crawford. Crawford backs up quite a bit between 5 & 6pm. Take a drive around that time and you will see what I mean. It is a terrible intersection all ready. I hardly think things will improve with bank traffic trying to get in and out.
lucas May 12, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Good spot for a Branch Bank. Great that someone is willing to clean up the hazards left by the Old Gas Station
Dan May 12, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Clearly, there is nothing worse than a bank on the corner. Bring back the smelly gas station over some button up bank any time. After all, those ATM can leak and spread money all over the place. The gas station was much better with the buried storage unit that when it leaks just goes into the ground. If we don't see it, then it didn't happen. Finally, why would we want a bank in our neighborhood? Just use plastic and run up some debt. That is the American way. This is almost as bad as when the Titled Kilt try to open up in downtown E-Town. When will these businesses learn that we don't need your tax revenue. We prefer to fund our civil services the old fashion way, with higher property taxes. No to banks, no to tax revenue, and yes to big oil!
millie May 12, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Good comments Dan. Perhaps leave the Gas Station they could add coffee and swandwich shop. Perhaps some grocries also
millie May 12, 2012 at 10:15 PM
forgot drive through car wash
citizen May 16, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Michael, traffic statistics are readily available. Make a FOIA request.


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