City of Evanston: Proposed Development Projects Review

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CiviComment

Case Study

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The City of Evanston (The City) Planning and Zoning Division is tasked with reviewing all proposals and applications related to building development and zoning ordinance. As part of the process, the Division makes proposed development projects available for public review and commenting, to create transparency and to preserve the quality of life of Evanston residents.  

Project Configuration

  • Using the CiviComment app, the City of Evanston sets up a dedicated site for each planned development project up for review.
  • For ease-of-use by the public, The City uploads the entire application and supplemental documents to facilitate commenting on specific sections.
  • Additionally, participants can fill out a quick survey to provide their feedback on the project, focusing on specific areas of concern for The City.
  • To ensure transparency and reduce repetitive comments, The City makes all comments visible to the public, which fosters interaction with previous comments left by other participants through responses or up/down-voting.
  • Users wishing to comment must register an account on the platform. This enables swift follow-up if needed, and ensures civil discourse by asking users to accept terms and conditions of participation.
  • Users leave their comments directly on top of the text it relates to, cutting down on the time it takes to track and process comments.
  • The public has the option to stay up to date on the project through an email sign up feature.

Outcomes

CiviComment provides a streamlined process for the City of Evanston to gather and review public comments. Prior to using CiviComment, staff had to gather comments through e-mails and phone calls – a tedious and time-consuming task. “The main feature of document commenting is very useful. Being able to see specifically where there is a comment and then being able to see what documents have been commented on helps us to figure out where the biggest concerns are and what aspects of the projects need more attention or updating,” said Meagan Jones, Neighborhood and Land Use Planner, City of Evanston.

With the ability to quickly and easily create reports of comments from a single platform, CiviComment cuts down on the amount of time that staff spent on obtaining and organizing feedback. The flexibility of the software and dedicated support from CiviComment staff allows the City of Evanston to easily adjust features to create the best platform to provide information to the public and obtain feedback.