Hundreds of acres in Huntley to become Kane County forest preserve — but some land set aside for development

Hundreds of acres of open land in Huntley could soon become a Kane County forest preserve, though the village has asked that some of the property be set aside for future development.

The potential new forest preserve, southwest of where Route 47 meets Interstate 90, would consist of a shelter and trail looping around the property, in addition to parking, Kane County Forest Preserve District Executive Director Ben Haberthur said.

Originally, district officials were looking at acquiring approximately 350 acres for the preserve. However, Huntley officials raised concerns about a potential sale of a portion of the property that fronts Route 47, indicating they thought development was a better use for the nearly 45-acre piece of land.

Huntley documents indicate the land currently is zoned for office, manufacturing and commercial uses. Property tax records indicate it’s classified as farmland.

“It’s the most developable parcel,” Haberthur said of the property in question, which the district agreed would not be included in the forest preserve acquisition.

Huntley needed to sign off on the acquisition, which it did on May 23.

Haberthur said the forest preserve district had to get a formal OK from Huntley because the property is not contiguous with other forest preserve land and is within Huntley’s municipal boundaries.

Huntley’s concurrence came with conditions, including an objection to the forest preserve district acquiring the roughly 45-acre southern parcel with the Route 47 frontage. Village documents indicate a potential buyer is interested in that parcel for possible future development.

Haberthur said the seller of the property first reached out to the district in January 2023 about a possible sale.

“They liked the idea of conservation,” he said.

Property tax records list the owner as Northern Trust Company. The company did not immediately return a message left on Tuesday.

Haberthur said the forest preserve district initially said no to the potential acquisition. But he said he’s personally visited the site, and “you can tell the value” of natural resources on it.

He said there are a lot of waterfowl at the potential forest preserve and expects birding would be a popular activity. He added there are a few 125-year-old oak trees and several acres that have never been plowed for agricultural use. The forest preserve hopes to start restoring the prairie once the district closes on the property.

Forest preserve officials voted in October to sign off on the purchase, which, according to district documents, came with a $4.95 million price tag.

Haberthur said that after the purchase has closed, which he hopes will be this month or in July, the forest preserve wants to have the new space up and running “pretty quick.”

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