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Article updated: 1/21/2013 2:36 PM

More paintballing might come to Kane County farmland

By James Fuller

More properties traditionally used for farming and agricultural purposes in Kane County may soon see second lives in recreational uses, such as paintball courses, if the county board approves a pending zoning code change.

County staff members want to allow more special uses for certain farm properties in response to increasing numbers of vacant and abandoned agricultural properties in the down economy. The idea is to prevent the properties from becoming eyesores and health hazards while also allowing the landowners another route to make a living. The code change would technically only allow changes to uses such a paintball facilities on a temporary, special use basis. Some board members, however, said there are examples of special uses in the county that have lasted for 20 years.

County board member T.R. Smith has suggested reviewing the special uses granted on an annual basis in case any of the uses have proved to be a nuisance to neighbors. But Development Committee Chairman Mike Donahue said last week the county's review process should already allow officials to block such problematic uses before they even begin.

"This change would not leave it wide open," Donahue said. "It requires that the use must be compatible with the intensity of the use already permitted in the district. If it's not listed as a permitted use, then it's not permitted and the county has control over the decision in the application process for a special use. We're just trying to help our landowners maintain their properties in an economically viable way."

The proposed code change will next head to the county's Zoning Board of Appeals for a review and public hearing. The full county board must approve the change before it becomes final.

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