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Development ordinance gets fresh eyes

Five of seven new to county panel reviewing development rules

WOODSTOCK – A changed McHenry County unified development ordinance will get its second draft reviewed by a very changed planning committee.

The McHenry County Board Planning and Development Committee before the Nov. 6 election went through much of the first draft of the ordinance, which has been developed over the past two years. But five of the committee’s seven members since the election are new – a mix of newcomers and board veterans.

The plan is to move through the whole second draft and go back to tackle potentially contentious issues such as agritourism, horse racing and electronic billboards, said committee chairman Joe Gottemoller, R-Crystal Lake.

“Let’s take the things we’re OK with and clear those out, nail them down and then go back and tackle the remaining issues,” he said.

The ordinance updates and combines all of the county’s development-related ordinances – for instance covering zoning, signs and subdivisions – into one to make the rules easier to follow and enforce. The ordinance applies only to unincorporated areas and does not supersede municipal planning and zoning regulations.

The County Board voted in late 2010 to pay Chicago-based Camiros Ltd. up to $248,000 to draft it.

The 2012 election forced an overhaul of the County Board’s committee memberships, given that more than one-third of the board’s 24 members are new. Former committee chairwoman Tina Hill, R-Woodstock, who had overseen the ordinance’s development, had to give up her seat when she was elected County Board chairwoman in December.

Gottemoller, an attorney with almost three decades of planning and zoning experience, is a County Board, as are three other committee members. Only two of the committee’s seven members were on the committee when the UDO was being developed and reviewed.

The committee and the Zoning Board of Appeals will hold joint reviews of the second draft, just as they did with the first draft. County Planning and Development Director Dennis Sandquist said those meetings probably will take place next month.

The third draft will then go to public review, after which the committee will forward it to the full County Board for approval. Both Sandquist and Hill have said they anticipate a summer vote.

The proposed ordinance provides some much-needed updates to county development regulations that have not been seriously evaluated for some time. Minor amendments aside, the county zoning ordinance was last overhauled in 2000, and the subdivision ordinance was last overhauled in 1991, not counting the addition of a conservation ordinance in 2008.

Gottemoller’s experience in zoning and land-use law is why he was given the committee chairmanship. He repeatedly has stressed that neither he nor his law firm will represent clients going before the county with development-related issues as long as he holds a County Board seat.

On the Net

You can read the draft version of the proposed unified development ordinance at camiros.com/mchenrycoUDO/.

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