Libertyville Township residents are invited to attend a public open house Thursday, June 19, to learn about and provide comments on a draft conceptual plan for the future use of 303 acres of protected open space along rural Casey Road north of Libertyville.
Drop-in participation is welcome any time between 5 and 8 p.m. at the Township Office, 359 Merrill Court in Libertyville, where residents will be invited to view a draft concept, meet elected officials and other members of the project team, ask questions and share comments.
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The public comment period will continue through July 18 via the township's website, www.libertyvilletownship.us.
In December 2015, a 28-year-old agricultural license expires on the 303 acres. Township officials welcome residents' opinions on the draft conceptual plan created by its ad hoc advisory committee, which has been collecting information and analyzing options for the past six months, including input obtained from an initial public comment period held in February.
The parcels, most of which are protected from development through conservation easements, 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.
The advisory committee, including Township Open Space staff, recommends the township employ an environmentally sensitive combination of farming and restoration practices that transitions over time to a restored landscape of native prairies, wetlands and savannas.
It advises a phased approach that uses both corn-and-bean farming and hay farming in ways that reduce impact to soil and water quality while generating income to support restoration efforts.
The approach is intended to provide the township the flexibility needed to take advantage of grants and other cost-saving measures without exceeding its staff's capacity and financial resources.
"This is a visionary yet pragmatic conceptual plan that honors the wishes of our residents as well as the region's guiding plans and the site's conservation easements," said Kathleen O'Connor, township supervisor.
The Casey Road Land Use Advisory Committee, chaired by O'Connor, includes representatives from Libertyville Township, Conserve Lake County, Lake County Forest Preserve District, Lake County Stormwater Management Commission and Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The township's board of trustees is expected to approve a final concept by this October.
Through public referendum in 1985, Libertyville Township was the state's first township to establish an Open Space District. Today, it protects and manages more than 1,500 acres of open space, including two properties that are of such ecological significance that they are included in the Illinois Nature Preserves System and are stewarded with help from volunteers.
To learn more about the open house, volunteering, or the open space properties, visit www.libertyvilletownship.us or call (847) 816-6800.