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Lengthy review may push back UDO vote

Published: Saturday, July 26, 2014 11:21 p.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Board’s vote to ratify the Unified Development Ordinance likely will be pushed back two weeks because of its ongoing review.

A three-hour Committee of the Whole meeting Friday to begin reviewing the UDO got the County Board up to the eighth chapter of the 20-chapter document. While the board is now set to hold a second review Friday, it is unlikely it will get through the document before the proposed voting meeting four days later on Aug. 5.

“It’s just a lot to cover ... who’s going to object to us saying, ‘Give us two more weeks to look at it?’ ” Joe Gottemoller, R-Crystal Lake, said.

The 300-page ordinance, which has been under development for more than three years, 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 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.

County Board Chairwoman Tina Hill, R-Woodstock, wanted to go over the UDO in several committee of the whole meetings so board members could ask their questions and get any changes they propose to staff ahead of time so they would be ready for a vote.

Past history gives county leaders precedent in getting concerns addressed early rather than avoiding making significant changes to a land-use document on the board floor the day of the vote.

The county’s attempt to approve a 2020 Land Use Plan died in 2006 after County Board members directed staff to develop a new version that was more friendly to development – critics alleged the original was an anti-growth document masquerading as a conservation-minded plan. Board members ended up rejecting both versions and were forced to start over – the subsequent 2030 Land Use Plan was ratified by the County Board in 2010.

The County Board could push back the UDO vote from its Aug. 5 morning meeting to its next meeting the evening of Aug. 19. Or it may decide to move ratification to the Sept. 2 morning meeting in anticipation of public comment and the length of time it will take to review and approve the ordinance – the evening meeting at which the 2030 Plan was ratified lasted more than five hours and went past midnight.

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