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posted: 2/16/2014 1:30 AM

Libetyville Township plans open house on Casey Road property

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Libertyville Township officials will host an open house regarding possible future uses for 303 acres of protected open space along rural Casey Road.

Residents can view maps, meet elected officials and other members of the project team, ask questions and share comments from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, at the Township Office, 359 Merrill Court in Libertyville.

The township began acquiring property in the area in 1987 and made subsequent purchases. The 303-acre tract has been farmed for years, and the long-term agricultural lease on the property expires in December 2015.

Township Supervisor Kathleen O'Connor said officials want to be "proactively planning instead of reactively planning" for what may happen in the future. For example, are portions available to be used as a wetland mitigation bank or better suited to restoration?

"It could be the same. Maybe there are other opportunities we haven't thought of," O'Connor said.

Township officials are looking for input as they begin to explore options for the parcels. Public comment will help in development of a concept plan, which will be presented for public comment at a second open house in June.

This first one is to provide an opportunity for people to see where the land is, what it's used for and provide general comments, according to O'Connor.

Visit the current projects center under the open space tab on the township website, or call (847) 816-6800.

Conservation easements protect the parcels from development but still allow a variety of open space options. The parcels are featured in several comprehensive planning documents adopted by the township board, including the 2013 Liberty Prairie Reserve Master Plan and the 2008 Bull Creek-Bull's Brook Watershed Plan.

Last December, the township created the Casey Road Land Use Advisory Committee to assist with information collection and analysis.

Led by O'Connor, the committee includes representatives from Libertyville Township, Conserve Lake County, Lake County Forest Preserve District, Lake County Stormwater Management Commission and Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Additional expertise comes from such groups as the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Through public referendum in 1985, Libertyville Township was the state's first township to establish an open space district. It now protects and manages more than 1,500 acres of open space, including two properties in the Illinois Nature Preserves System.

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