By KEVIN P. CRAVER - kcraver@nwherald.com

County Board approves ZBA appointees

WOODSTOCK – The leader of a county environmental group got seated on the McHenry County Zoning Board of Appeals, over opposition from a few County Board members.

The County Board voted Tuesday, 20-3, to appoint Patricia Kennedy, president of the Alliance for Land, Agriculture and Water, to an alternate seat expiring Dec. 15.

Board members Nick Provenzano and Peter Merkel, both R-McHenry, spoke out against Kennedy’s appointment. Provenzano alleged that Kennedy had an agenda incompatible with the board, while Merkel accused the group of not being properly registered as tax-exempt.

The group has riled some county leaders in past years with its unsuccessful attempt to put much of the county under a water authority and its successful efforts to implement a new economic interest form for county elected officials.

“I can’t see someone from that organization on one of our boards,” said Merkel, who in the past has questioned A-LAW’s motives.

Their comments drew responses and rebukes from other County Board members. John Hammerand, R-Wonder Lake, said that Merkel and Provenzano did not air concerns about agendas when they voted earlier that evening to appoint Charles Eldredge, a former real estate consultant, to the zoning board.

Randy Donley, R-Union, called Kennedy a tireless watchdog who will help provide balance on the zoning board. Donley is one of four County Board members representing the county’s rural western half.

“If anybody cares about this county, it’s Ms. Kennedy,” Donley said.

Board member Ersel Schuster, R-Woodstock, called Merkel’s accusation “over the top” and said that A-LAW’s tax status was addressed and confirmed during the disclosure ordinance debate. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, called the accusation “inappropriate.”

Marc Munaretto, R-Algonquin, also voted against appointing Kennedy but did not make any statements during the discussion.

Eldredge was approved for the vacant voting member position by a 20-3 vote, with Wheeler, Hammerand and Donna Kurtz, R-Crystal Lake, voting no. Board members voted in March to table his promotion from alternate to full voting member because the vacancy was not first advertised to the public.

Board members Tuesday voted, 23-0, to appoint John Rosene as an alternate member with a term expiring Dec. 15, 2012. Eldredge’s term expires Sept. 1, 2013.

Alternate zoning board members do not vote on zoning petitions unless they are filling in for absent voting members.

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