Zoning committee delays vote on Children's Museum

The city's zoning committee postponed today a highly anticipated vote on the Children Museum's move to Grant Park, delaying the hot-button issue until June.

Ald. William J.P. Banks (D-36), chair of the zoning commitee, deferred the decision because six of the 14 committee members were absent, he said.

"This is a very controversial issue. It's a very touchy issue. We want to make sure that all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed and that everybody gets their day," said Banks.

Scores of opponents of the museum's move left after the postponement was announced at the beginning of the meeting.

Peggy Figiel, executive director of Save Grant Park, chalked up the deferment to the Richard J. Daley administration's doubts about the outcome.

"We heard that Daley aides requested that it be deferred," said Figiel. "It didn't sound like they're that confident."

Figiel believes the delay will work in opponents' favor.

"We have more time to organize, and I believe that people are just outraged," said Figiel.

Eight members of the committee -- enough to constitute a quorum -- were present in the building, including two who were not in the chamber, but were "on standby," according to Banks.

At one point in the meeting, Hugh Devlin, a Rogers Park resident who spoke regarding an unrelated development in the 50th ward, questioned whether the six members in the chamber did indeed constitute a quorum for approving zoning ordinances.

His challenge was met with a stern reprimand by Ald. Eugene Schulter (D-47), who informed him that only committee members can question quorums.

For a couple weeks Banks' office has been trying to determine the availability of committee members, many of whom are attending a retail real estate convention in Las Vegas this week, said Banks.

"We weren't sure of who was going to be available when, so we opted very prudently not to move forward."

Banks said the issue will come up for a vote during the zoning committee meeting June 5. If approved it will face a full council vote. The next council meeting is Wednesday June 11.

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