Evanston City Council introduced a new ordinance to ban semi trucks on streets surrounding Clesen Wholesale ― a wholesale vendor for garden retailers and landscapers ― and approved an ordinance to create a small donor matching fund for fair elections at a meeting Tuesday night.
8th Ward residents previously raised concerns to Ald. Devon Reid (8th) about disruptive semi trucks transporting materials to and from the store, primarily on Dewey Avenue. Several residents attended Tuesday’s meeting to support the ordinance, which would prohibit semi trucks from using certain roads in the area.
According to residents, the trucks create unsafe conditions, preventing community members from leaving the neighborhood and making noise throughout the night.
“They are also using the residential streets to do loading and unloading,” Evanston resident Rebecca Luzadder said. “The cars are not able to go by. The school buses are not able to go by. It’s a really big challenge.”
Alds. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) and Bobby Burns (5th) consulted Assistant City Attorney Brian George about the potential liability of banning semi trucks. George said that while further research is needed, there is a possibility of litigation if the ordinance is cutting into a business.
However, Reid said he wants to send a “very clear message” to Clesen Wholesale about the council’s willingness to implement the ordinance.
“This location that happens to be in a residential neighborhood needs to operate as if it is in a residential area,” Reid said. “This is a last resort to bring relief to residents who are concerned about the safety of their families and their children.”
Council approved the introduction of the ordinance and pushed its vote to Oct. 23 to allow more time for communication with the company.
Council also voted to establish a small donor matching fund that would provide public funds for mayoral election campaigns. The ordinance aims to encourage qualified candidates to run for office, regardless of their ability to pay for campaign costs.
According to the ordinance, “The current campaign finance system reduces the opportunity for all citizens to equally and meaningfully participate in the democratic process.” Qualifying candidates will receive payment from the city to use for campaign expenses.
City Council will either allocate $68,750 or one-sixtieth of a percent of Evanston’s annual budget to the fund, depending on which number is greater.
Qualifying candidates must collect 100 initial donations for the mayoral office, and the city will match the collected donations up to $45,000. The ordinance also notes that if 90% of the fund is distributed, the city clerk will notify candidates, and no additional matching payments will be made.
The ordinance passed with a vote of 6-2. Reid and Thomas Suffredin (6th) voted against the ordinance, and Burns was not present for the vote.
Council was also disrupted by hateful speech at Tuesday’s meeting. An unidentified individual interrupted Mayor Daniel Biss’ proclamations using the City Council’s public Zoom meeting. The individual made several comments before city staff shut down the Zoom meeting.
Biss initiated a brief recess to assess the problem, and Council resumed about 10 minutes after the interruption without the Zoom meeting.
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