City rezones for incoming event center

Evanston resident Lori Carleton speaks to the Evanston City Council about her concerns with a project that would bring an indoor/outdoor arena, hotels and restaurants to Evanston. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — Prior to the start of any agenda items, a drawing for the Crimestoppers raffle took place at the Evanston City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 15. Crimestoppers members — EPD Chief Mike Vranish, Sgt. Ken Pearson — and the organization’s president, Lexi Lamb, were present to award the winners.

Lamb borrowed a hat from Evanston Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tammy Staley, who was in the audience, to put the tickets in and then asked council members to draw the winners. Shawn Stahl was the first-place winner, earning $1,000; Jeremy Lamb received $400 for second place and Parnell Lym is $100 richer after being drawn for third place.

The main topic of discussion at the meeting was a request by Equine Capital Network for a zone change for 154 acers of property from Agricultural-Established to Highway Business-Developing. 

Evanston Director of Engineering and Planning Dean Barker provided information on the proposed zone change. A public hearing by Evanston Planning and Zoning was held on March 7 and, after hearing from the applicant, affected landowners and the public at large, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend that the council approve the zone change.

“The request is in line with the city’s master plan,” Barker said. “There is access from Yellow Creek Road and, if it is subdivided, we can work with the developer on that. The plans are for mixed-use, with an RV park, restaurants, hotel, large parking area and an indoor and outdoor recreational facility.”

Barker provided a computerized map of the area and the design plan.

The mayor then asked if there were any questions from the council or if anyone from the public wanted to say anything.

Lori Carleton, who attended the planning and zoning public hearing, stepped up to address the council.

“I have some concerns to share,” Carleton said. “Has there been a feasibility study? I am concerned about the amount of water usage this would take, especially with the drought conditions. I am also concerned for the wildlife in that area that graze there and, perhaps, for the loss of money that hunting and fishing bring to the area if the wildlife were pushed off. It appears that this development will cater to the high-dollar person. If this goes forward, I hope the locals can afford to patronize the facilities.”

Evanston Mayor Kent Williams thanked Carleton and told her he appreciated her concerns.

Barker reminded the public and the council that the current request was only for a zone change and, if the developer went away, the change is still in line with the master plan.

“A good thing about this is it involves no dollars from the city,” Williams said. “It is a private venture, and we appreciate their effort. Personally, I am thrilled to see a person who is willing to invest this large amount of resources into our community. This has not happened for many years.”

The council voted unanimously to approve the zone change on first reading. It will be read and voted on two more times before final approval.

During the course of the meeting, Holly Law was reappointed to serve a five-year term on the Evanston Housing Authority board.    

A parade permit for the Evanston Cowboy Days Labor Day Parade, to take place on Monday, Sept. 5, was approved; and a limited malt beverage permit for the annual Cowboy Days celebration at the Uinta County Fairgrounds, to be held from Friday, Sept 2, through Monday, Sept. 5, was also approved.

The council approved on third and final reading the ordinance to amend the city fire code and adopt the 2021 edition of the International Fire Code.

Evanston Attorney Dennis Boal addressed the resolution authorizing the city to enter into a license agreement with Union Telephone Company to provide access and utilities to a cellular communications site.

“This agreement gives Union Telephone access to the utilities and the cellular communication site for five years,” Boal said, “and we can renew six additional times on this license agreement. The initial cost is $5,000 for the first five years, with a 10% increase in cost with each renewal.”

The last resolution was addressed by Evanston Public Works Director Gordon Robinson concerning a professional services agreement with Hazen and Sawyer to provide engineering services for the Evanston Water Treatment Plant process improvement study. 

Robinson told the council the water treatment plant is now 20 years old and they need to determine what needs to be improved. He said it is evident that the filters are aging and there are signs of deterioration.

The council approved both resolutions for the agreement with Union Telephone and with Hazen and Sawyer.

During department comments, Chief Vranish thanked everyone for their support of the Crimestoppers raffle.

Staley, the chamber director, announced that the Chamber Legislative Breakfast will be held at 7:30 a.m. at the Roundhouse on Thursday, April 7.

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