The McDonough County Comprehensive Plan Committee made some last minute changes before sending the plan to the full county board for its approval.
Most significantly, almost all references to “land use” were removed. Some committee members and the McDonough County Farm Bureau Board of Directors treated the seven letter phrase like a four letter word and feared it would eventually lead to the “z” word: zoning.
The rest of the committee went along with their suggestions to remove most references to land use, though some also pointed out the current plan contains land use suggestions and has not resulted in zoning.
In fact, Committee Chair Bill Carle said the current plan is much more stringent. He stressed the updated document is simply a guide for the county and developers.
“We’re trying to use this more as an economic development tool rather than a regulatory tool,” Carle said.
“We want to show the outside world that we are a progressive county and want to move on.”
Carle said the county is not trying to develop zoning.
The Farm Bureau also asked the committee to delete an objective that suggests pedestrian and bicycle paths be developed throughout the county. The bureau felt such paths might get used by ATVs or that people might stray from the paths and onto private property.
The committee changed some of the wording for the objective but kept it in the plan.
The Western Illinois Regional Council helped the committee develop the plan. Carle said the WIRC created “…a beautiful piece of work.”
He said no local tax dollars were used. He said the county received a $35,000 state grant to pay for WIRC’s assistance.
The county board agreed to update the comprehensive plan after discovering the current document was created in 1972. The committee held two public hearings, numerous focus group sessions, and countless other meetings over the course of nearly four years.
The committee endorsed the updated plan on a 4-to-2 vote. Clarke Kelso and Chad Hensley opposed it. The full county board will be asked to approve the plan during its December meeting.