MCC Seems to Threaten to Expand Outside of Crystal Lake

When faced with questions about McHenry County College’s asking to cover more than twice as much of Crystal Lake’s fragile watershed than is allowed by the Watershed Ordinance, MCC attorney Sandy Kerrick issued what seemed to me to be a thinly veiled threat.

“If we can’t have a certain amount of coverage, it doesn’t make sense (to expand at the Crystal Lake campus),” Kerrick said after Cindy Skrukrud, Chairman of the McHenry County Water Protection Committee, expressed watershed concerns similar to what I brought up earlier.

Crystal Lake’s Watershed Ordinance allows a maximum of 20% of land to be covered with impermeable surfaces like buildings and parking lots. MCC is asking permission to cover up 45% of the land.

The ordinance is decades old, so it certainly cannot be argued that the guideline is a big surprise to the college.

“This is probably the largest project (we have ever considered), “Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Tom Hayden, a former Crystal Lake City Councilman, said. “I assure you we will do due diligence,” he told Skurud.

“We would value your input at the public hearing,” he continued, before Kerrick saw the need for a rebuttal.

After suggesting the college could construct satellite campuses instead of expanding at the current site, Kerrick launched into what will undoubtedly be the main argument MCC will use for violating the Watershed Ordinance’s 20% guideline.

“If we combine with the hundreds of acres to the south, you have (property) that will never be built upon,” she pointed out.

She advised the commissioner to think of it all as “public land.”

“You have to have a college that makes sense,” she said.

“The land (MCC owns) is particularly well-drained,” adding, “Patrick (Engineering) seems not to have any doubt in its mind that the water can be returned (to the watershed).”

Commission Jim Batastini reacted negatively to Kerrick’s attempting “to put the weight of the watershed on the back of the park district.”

He said that other applicants could argue, “Well, the park district has all this and, so putting 60% here make sense.”

The college is basically asking for a blank check on the 57 acres that border Tartan Drive, the road between Country Club Road and the current campus and proposed baseball stadium.

Kerrick said that MCC would not build out the 57 acres would not be built out for 30 years. The zoning request, however, asks approval now to cover 45% of the total land the college will soon own. Kerrick never used the 45% figure, of course.

She said that MCC was “hopeful engineering grows,” that the college was “trying to reserve the property so that we will not only have best practices, but better and better engineering.”

The whole performance reminded me of a dissatisfied kid in the neighborhood pick-up ball game.

“Play by my rules or I’ll take my ball and bat and go home,” was the way I heard the old tale.

For the life of me I cannot understand why the fitness center/classroom building and baseball stadium cannot stand on their own footings.

That proposal would cover 29% of the total college property, if one counts the 67 acres for which a purchase deal has been cut.

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