Zoning Change Requested for Marengo Township Horse Racing Track

Dunham Township Republican Precinct Committeeman Melissa Denker explains the Tomlin Road Horse Raceway application for a McHenry County Conditional Use Permit and a variation to allow for

  • horse racing events with food and merchandise vendors at the events
  • signage in accordance with the McHenry County Sign Ordinance
  • grass parking areas during the horse racing events

If you would like more information about the proposal, you can find it here and below:

A hearing was scheduled before the Zoning Board of Appeals for last Thursday, but it was deferred until late May 30th at 1:30.
According to the Staff Report of the McHenry County Planning and Zoning Department, “the Property in Question (PIQ) consists of approximately 41.8 acres, and is located on the south side of Tomlin Road, approximately 70 feet west of Mulvenna Road, in Marengo Township.”
Here's an aerial view of the property where a racetrack is being requested.

Here’s an aerial view of the property where a racetrack is being requested.

The address of the property is 24720 Tomlin Road, Marengo.

The following appears in the staff recommendation section:

“The Conditional Use is not consistent with adjacent agricultural land uses, as horse racing is not a customary
agricultural activity. The request is not consistent with the 2030 Plan map designation of AGRICULTURAL
to the extent that commercial, non-agricultural activities are proposed on the PIQ.

“Otherwise, the 2030 Plan text is generally silent regarding the proposed type of use in this location, except that water sources should be protected, and commercial uses should be located adjacent to existing infrastructure and should maximize the use and efficiency of existing facilities.

“The site is located on an existing Township highway, but staff has not received any comments from Marengo

“Staff has no recommendation for approval or denial of the Conditional Use at the writing of this report.”

Staff recommends against a green grass parking variation.

Where the racetrack is proposed.

Where the racetrack is proposed.

“The requested Conditional Use is not compatible with the agricultural uses surrounding the PIQ,” the report continues.

It is noted,

“The Conditional Use request is in conflict with the map designation of AGRICULTURAL [in the 2030 Comprehensive Plan], since the proposed uses are essentially commercial in nature…horseracing/spectator-viewing, and vending activities are not customary agricultural activities.”

Problems with the aquifer are not envisioned: “The McHenry County Soil and Water Conservation District
Natural Resources Inventory evaluation letter indicates that adverse impacts are unlikely.”

The Sheriff’s Department offered the following on previous race days:

“…two calls that resulted in reports relevant to the proposed use: On 18 September 2011 a fight broke out while Sheriff’ s deputies were on site during a horse-racing event; no arrests were made, however. On 27 May 2012 Sheriff’s deputies were present when a fight had erupted that resulted in criminal damage to property. The victim, however, could not or would not identify the perpetrator and no arrests were made. Crowd size during at least one of these events was estimated at 700 persons at peak volume by the Sheriff’s Department.”

The final paragraph of the Staff Report points out,

“The petitioner should be aware that under Section 703 of the 2000 McHenry County Zoning Ordinance, several standards are cited, all of which must be met in order for a Variation to be granted. These standards include

  • hardship in relation to the site conditions
  • that the request is unique to the property
  • that the purpose of the request is not based on any monetary gain
  • that the petitioners did not cause or create the hardship
  • that the request is not detrimental to the public welfare and safety
  • that the request not confer any special privilege to the applicant that is denied to others of the same zoning district.”

Owner of the property is the Silvia McClain Trust, Silvia McClain-Sandoval, Trustee.

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