To: Tina Hill, Chair, McHenry County Board, County Board Members and Representatives of the People of McHenry County, Illinois
From: The Alliance for Land, Agriculture and Water (ALAW)
Re: Comments on Final Draft of Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) currently on 30 day review.
Date: July 8, 2014
Dear Ms. Hill and Honorable Board Members:
We have been submitting observations and thoughtfully researched suggestions on the various drafts of the Unified Development Ordinance, since we were invited and interviewed as key
persons in February 2011, the beginning phase of this project.
Thirty day review of this very large and complex document officially began on July 1, 2104. The
final draft is over three hundred pages. To even read all of it would be quite a task. To read it
and understand all of what it is saying and the ramifications of much of what it proposes is an
That means that most of you will simply be asking members of the P&D Committee and or the
ZBA what they think and voting the way they suggest.
I have to tell you that is a HUGE disservice to every single one of us who actually live in
unincorporated McHenry County. Each of us will actually have to live with what is allowed or
disallowed by these Ordinances. The value of our land, the availability of locally grown food, the vibrant agricultural business, the quantity and quality of our water supply, the increasing number of tourists who visit will be affected or destroyed by what is laid out as law in this document. Not just now but for at least 10 years to come. Ah, yes, some people will tell you that the document will be updated each year. Well, if the Unified Development Ordinance is updated that often, something is massively wrong with it right now.
We have listed below the main points that we believe need to be changed in these proposed Ordinances. However, a majority of these points would be addressed and weaknesses corrected
by simply stating “All development shall be placed within or immediately adjacent to existing
municipalities.” Making that one simple change would bring much greater safety and efficiency
to any new subdivisions, businesses or other development. Development that is placed within or
adjacent to existing municipalities means that people who wish to work at those businesses, shop
at those stores, live in those homes have a much shorter distance to travel.
Subdivisions, businesses and other developments that are placed within or adjacent to existing
municipalities are more quickly and more efficiently served by all of the emergency services,
which means that fewer additional tax dollars are needed to serve these new developments.
There are fewer additional lane miles of roads required to accommodate them which means fewer tax dollars needed to build and maintain those roads.
It would help new business to survive and to thrive. They wouldn’t be stuck out in the middle of
nowhere, but would be near or within an already existing and established community. You may hear from some people that this type of business or that type of business would benefit from being out in the countryside. Well, glance around and see the many empty buildings that are in our existing communities. Don’t scatter businesses here and there in the unincorporated part of this county. That hurts all of us, including the businesses.
A great deal of this proposed Ordinance is a municipal ordinance. It is designed to encourage subdivisions and businesses throughout the unincorporated county. It is not meant to protect
irreplaceable resources such as agricultural land, ground water recharge, forests, and simple open spaces.
People travel long distances to be able to visit places just such as we have here. The tourist
industry is growing right here because of the ag lands, forests, open spaces, and streams and lakes that we have here in our unincorporated county.
I am a simple, direct person and I will tell you that this is NOT a simple direct document. It is
a document that is the next step toward creating the City of McHenry County. To turning all of
the unincorporated area in the county into a city that is controlled by what is now called County
Government. But be careful, if you think that would be a good idea, because there will be less and less water for those business and less and less water for the people to drink.
Let us say this ONE MORE TIME !!!!!!
What we have here is a wealth of natural resources. Resources that can feed us, give us good abundant water to drink and open spaces that allow us to breathe. You have the opportunity to
protect those important resources or you can squander then for short term gains now for a few
people and leave a legacy of loss and betrayal for those that you are honor bound to care for and
Your choice. Which will it be?
1. The UDO does not respect the “compact and contiguous” LEAM model that was adopted by the 2030 Plan, but allows development to proceed unhindered in outlying areas, away from access to power grids, communication lines, roads, public transportation, school bus service, sanitation service, sewer and water, accessible jobs and shopping. Much of this is not paid for by the development itself but is picked up by current residents.
2. The UDO does not protect farm land and the agricultural lifestyle of the majority of residents in the county, the only area impacted by the UDO, instead it permits spot zoning in the guise of conditional uses to break up large tracts and introduce entering wedges for commercial development.
3. The UDO does not limit the number of conditional uses in the county, as touted. It actually has created many, many more, mostly in the A-1 agricultural areas, mostly not related to agriculture.
4. The UDO removes all the restrictions on the creation of an A-2 parcel from an A-1 parcel, and imposes no limitation on how many times an A-2 can be cut from an A-1, potentially leading over a period of time to creation of a de facto subdivision.
5. The UDO does not protect prime agricultural soils in spite of lip service in the 2030 plan to Agricultural Protection” zones.
6. The UDO does not control the proliferation of illegal horse racing, motocross biking, and mud
wallowing that has hit the county lately.
7. The UDO does not protect groundwater recharge; the coverage limitation on parcels included in ARA and Class III districts is outrageously high to begin with, and the system can be easily manipulated to avoid even that level of protection.
8. The UDO permits salvage yards, Class V underground injection wells, dry wells, wastewater treatment systems, geothermal systems and clean construction/debris facilities in the SARA and Class III overlay areas, in spite of their potential to pollute the groundwater.
9. The UDO breaks up existing neighborhoods; it encourages a second building on a single residential property, to be used as a second residence or a home business, including parking of a commercial vehicle.
10. The UDO vests tremendous power in the Zoning Enforcement Officer without adequate requirements for record keeping and review.
11. The UDO limits protection of native hardwood trees as only required when conservation design is applied, inviting destruction of the remaining few stands of hardwood forest left in this county.
12. The UDO does not address concepts like walkable communities, transit oriented development,
retrofitting and rehabbing, affordable housing, or residential proximity to employment centers, all resource friendly concepts. Of course these concepts all need to be employed contiguous to municipal boundaries where the development will likely be annexed in, so why bother with them on county land?
The Alliance for Land, Agriculture and Water (ALAW) is a not-for-profit corporation incorporated October 3, 2006, under the laws of the State of Illinois, and determined to be tax-exempt under IRC 501(c)(4). It is organized and operated exclusively to further the common good and general welfare of the people of the community. ALAW focuses its efforts on protection of natural resources, good governance and other issues that affect the health, safety and welfare of the people of McHenry County.