Unified Development Ordinance moves to public review

WOODSTOCK – The proposed McHenry County Unified Development Ordinance is out of government’s hands and into yours.

After a year of joint meetings, the Zoning Board of Appeals and the County Board Planning and Development Committee voted to move the 300-page, 20-chapter ordinance to public review. A series of public presentations is tentatively scheduled for the first week in April.

“I think the committee and the ZBA feel really good that they have not a perfect, but a consensus ordinance, and they’re looking forward to hearing public comment on it,” county Planning and Development Director Dennis Sandquist said.

The ordinance updates county government’s zoning, sign, subdivision and other ordinances and combines them into one document. It only applies to unincorporated areas and does not supersede municipalities that have enacted their own zoning ordinances.

Planning and Development Committee Chairman Joe Gottemoller, R-Crystal Lake, said after the vote that members are “ecstatic” about the ordinance moving forward. He said his committee has met 48 times to discuss it, by itself and with the zoning board, since he became committee chairman in January 2013.

“It’s a land-use document that tries to balance a lot of different issues,” Gottemoller said.

The zoning board will amend the ordinance based on the public comments and will send it back to Gottemoller’s committee, which will forward it to the full County Board for a vote. Ratification is expected this fall.

The ordinance attempts to balance property rights and preservation of natural resources, and tries to tackle some land-use issues that have stymied County Board members in the past.

It defines agritourism and sets down rules pertaining to it, further codifies allowing the building of wineries and allows zoning for them, and places limits on off-premises electronic billboards – the county has twice extended a moratorium on such signs until the ordinance’s approval.

The county’s current development regulations in many cases have not been seriously reviewed for some time. Minor amendments aside, the county zoning ordinance was last overhauled 14 years ago, and the subdivision ordinance dates back to 1991, not counting the 1998 addition of a conservation design section.

On the Net

You can read the proposed Unified Development Ordinance at http://shawurl.com/10wo.

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