Overhaul of development rules picks up

County ordinance headed soon to public hearings

WOODSTOCK – After three years, the McHenry County Unified Development Ordinance will soon begin to enter the final stretch.

The County Board Planning and Development Committee and the Zoning Board of Appeals are expected to finish their joint review of a second draft later this winter, with Planning and Development Committee Chairman Joe Gottemoller, R-Crystal Lake, hopeful that the ordinance could be ready for public hearings by March.

The committee and the zoning board have met almost weekly for much of the past 12 months to do a line-by-line review of the 21-chapter ordinance, which when approved will guide building and development in unincorporated areas.

The ordinance updates and combines all of the county’s development-related ordinances, such as those now covering zoning, signs and subdivision planning, into one to make the rules easier to follow and enforce.

Gottemoller anticipates that the committee and the zoning board will finish their review over the next four meetings.

They will then have to go back to tackle some potentially contentious issues, such as agritourism and electronic billboards, as well as review items they directed county planning staff to change. Two groups of residents interested in horses and watersheds have requested meetings with the officials as well.

At least four public hearings will be scheduled countywide for the public review, and residents will be able to submit comments online as well. The current schedule by the county Planning and Development Department anticipates that the ordinance will go to the full County Board for approval by fall 2014.

The County Board voted in late 2010 to pay Chicago-based Camiros Ltd. up to $248,000 to help draft the ordinance, and work began in early 2011.

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.

The ordinance will apply only to unincorporated areas, and does not supersede municipal planning and zoning regulations.

On the Net

You can read the draft version of the proposed unified development ordinance at

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