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McHenry County wins award for green infrastructure plan

The following was released Monday by the county's Planning and Development Department:

WOODSTOCK, IL - For the second time in three years, McHenry County was the recipient of an award from the Illinois Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA). At the October 16 County Board meeting, Steve Lazarra, chair of public relations for the chapter, presented the 2012 Award for a Strategic Plan to Chairman Ken Koehler, the County Board, and County staff in recognition of the McHenry County Green Infrastructure Plan.

“As a colleague and peer, I am very proud of what they have achieved,” said Mr. Lazarra, speaking of County staff and their partners on the project. He added, “You guys very well deserve it; you did a great job.”

Standing alongside Chairman Koehler to receive the award were Tina Hill, chair of the Planning and Development Committee, Mary McCann, chair of the Natural and Environmental Resources Committee, Dennis Sandquist, director of Planning and Development, Darrell Moore, principal planner, and Dennis Dreher, consulting expert on the project.

The County’s previous award from the chapter came in 2010, when it received a Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan for the McHenry County 2030 Comprehensive Plan, which included recommendations for the creation of a green infrastructure plan.

Mr. Sandquist expressed thanks to the Planning and Development and Natural and Environmental Resources committees for their leadership on this endeavor, adding, “It was the first project to kick off implementation of the 2030 Plan. So, I think it’s off to a great start.”

The McHenry County Green Infrastructure Plan was adopted by the County Board in July after more than 18 months of workshops, mapping, and open houses. The plan promotes a collection of ideas and practices commonly referred to as ‘green infrastructure’ and, through maps and policy recommendations, presents a vision for countywide implementation.

Green infrastructure concepts include the identification and preservation of lands that manage and support natural water functions, provide recreation and tourism opportunities, and support biodiversity and wildlife habitat. Green infrastructure can also refer to technologies and practices that replicate or facilitate natural water and environmental processes, such as bioswales, permeable pavement, and green roofs. The plan promotes implementation of these concepts in land use decisions and new development and calls for the establishment of a network of green infrastructure that runs throughout the County.

The Illinois Chapter of the APA has approximately 1600 members. Each fall, the chapter hosts a state conference at which projects from around the state are awarded for excellence in planning. McHenry County was one of six award winners for 2012, out of 37 entries.

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