The first draft of McHenry County's new unified development ordinance is now available for review, and the first public meetings are scheduled for next week.
The draft was prepared by Chicago-based consultant Camiros, which began working with the county in December 2010 on updating and combining all zoning, subdivision and sign regulations, along with a smattering of other development regulations, to come up with a unified set of rules.
The "hot spots" of the unified ordinance are its revision of the county's agricultural zoning districts -- for example, it proposes the creation of a new district that would allow a mix of agricultural, residential and limited commercial use -- and a full revision of the county's sign code, committee chairwoman Tina Hill said.
The ultimate goal is to make things easier for property owners and administrators alike, said Camiros principal consultant Arista Strungys. Camiros is also working on a unified ordinance for Winnebago County, she said.
The unified ordinances "gives one voice, one set of definitions to development in McHenry County," Strungys said.
"We wanted to make sure the document is user-friendly, that people can follow along and understand where and what type of development they can have on their property. We also want to make it easier for administrators, so when they receive an application, they can review it quickly and efficiently," she said.
Hill said she hopes county board members will attend the 16 hours of meetings scheduled in the next two weeks, so they can ask questions and give as much input as possible early in the process. She also encouraged residents to get involved. "If you would like a specific item discussed, you should call your county board member and let them know," she said.
The county board's planning and zoning committee and the zoning board of appeals will be meeting from 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and again Sept. 26-27 to review the draft ordinance.
Camiros will then prepare a second draft, followed by a public meeting whose input will be incorporated into a third draft, committee chairwoman Tina Hill said. The ordinance will then go to the planning and development committee, and eventually to the county board, likely in January, Hill said.