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County Board sets down UDO review process

Published: Monday, June 30, 2014 12:38 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 12:19 a.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Board will review the Unified Development Ordinance over two meetings before a likely August vote.

The ordinance, a complete overhaul of county government's development-related codes, will officially be delivered to the County Board on Tuesday, starting a 30-day review process. County Board members will receive a presentation on the UDO at their evening meeting July 15, and debate it at a Committee of the Whole meeting before the Aug. 5 morning meeting at which it likely will come up for a vote.

Holding a Committee of the Whole allows County Board members to ask questions and air concerns ahead of time, board Chairwoman Tina Hill, R-Woodstock, said. The timing of the meetings also makes the July 15 evening meeting one in which residents can come forward and offer public comment, said Planning and Development Committee Chairman Joe Gottemoller, R-Crystal Lake.

The committee earlier this month moved the proposed ordinance to the County Board for a final vote after more than three years of work.

Coming in at 300 pages and 20 chapters, the ordinance updates the county’s development-related ordinances, such as those governing zoning, signs and subdivisions, and combines them into one to make the rules easier to read and follow. It only applies to unincorporated areas, and does not supersede municipalities with their own development and land-use ordinances.

The ordinance in recent months has undergone public review and revision by the Zoning Board of Appeals, which subsequently sent it to the committee for its final revision before going to the County Board.

The ordinance attempts to balance property rights and preservation of natural resources, and attempts to address some land-use issues, such as agritourism, that have caused problems for the County Board because no definition or rules existed.

Minor adjustments aside, the county’s zoning ordinance was last overhauled in 2000, and its subdivision ordinance dates back to 1991. The last significant change was the addition in 2008 of a conservation design ordinance.

The Zoning Board of Appeals processed more than 500 pages of comments and testimony from residents during the public review process.

Other local governments that have unified development ordinances include Crystal Lake, Woodstock and Richmond.

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