Environmental Defenders of McHenry County

Citizens working for a healthy environment

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A First-Timer's Guide: Dealing with Rezoning Issues in McHenry County

The ZBA Hearing

  • Petitioner states his credentials and explains - may use maps, drawings, etc.. to show his intentions for the property. The ZBA members question him. Then you may question him but only on the testimony given up to this point.

    Remember something very, very important - if the zoning amendment passes, the petitioner is not bound to honor any of the drawings or maps he presents, or any verbal promises to work around wetlands, or not to take down trees!!! He is only required to stay within the zoning classifications - anything else is just window dressing!
  • Petitioner may present witnesses - soil experts, land planning experts, real estate brokers, etc. Once again, the ZBA members question witnesses, and you can question them on their testimony.
  • The public can give a brief statement of opposing views. Try to have neighbors that might directly suffer consequences of this development ready to make a short statement - concerns about flooding problems, dangerous traffic problems, well & septic concerns, environmental concerns (wetlands), school crowding, etc.

    Also, at this time, someone may read the petition into evidence. They give you about 3 minutes to talk and you must sign in at the beginning of each hearing showing that you wish to speak.

    You may feel, as we did, that you are trying to play a game without first knowing the rules. You may want to retain a lawyer. After the first ZBA hearing date was continued, we went door-to-door once again asking for pledges for cash towards a lawyer. We contacted the Defenders, who recommended a local lawyer concerned about environmental and rezoning issues in McHenry County. Afterwards, several of our group remarked that they thought we probably would have lost without our lawyer.

    Something else you should realize from the onset is that the petitioner seems to have all the rights in these proceedings. You cannot ask the ZBA for evening hearings - only the petitioner can. The petitioner can ask for continuances for the most flimsy reasons - and they will get them because "they are paying for the hearings."

    The petitioner can ask for a full ZBA vote - even though only 4 or 5 members were present for the hearings. The other ZBA members are then required to read the transcripts and you get to wait another month.

The ZBA Vote

This is not the vote that will change the zoning; this is only a "recommendation" to the County Board from the ZBA members, presented after they have heard all testimony.

 

 

Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, 110 South Johnson Street, Suite 106, Woodstock, Illinois 60098
815-338-0393  mcdef@owc.net