Four public hearings, plus other business, were scheduled for the November 28 Kane County Commission meeting.

The commission adopted the Kane County General Plan.  Ken Sizemore, Five County Association, presented the plan and answered any questions. 

The plan is in two sections: The General Plan, which covers the private sector, and the County Resource Management Plan, which involved the public lands sector. 

Sizemore explained counties need a General Plan in order to qualify for most federal and state grants. The purpose of the plan is to encourage health, safety and welfare of its individuals. The County Plan deals only with unincorporated areas. The Resource Plan is an adopted, written policy to deal with the federal government on land management in Kane County. The County Land Use Commission and the Resource Committee have been involved for a year with public hearings to complete the documents. 

There were questions about State Institute Trust Lands (SITLA). SITLA generates revenue by selling or leasing for agriculture or exchange.

Caralee Woods wanted a definition of blight and the process for removal. She was told it is very rare to happen in unincorporated areas.  It is more common in municipalities.

Jim Matson complimented Ken Sizemore’s work with the plan. The plans are on the county website and the building department’s website.  (wordpress); link highlighted in purple, or commission.

The commission adopted Ordinance 2011-3, the Rural Unimproved Subdivision.  This is the ordinance the commissioners sent back to the Planning Commission a few weeks ago with their proposed revisions. The ordinance is designed for farmers and ranchers. Ryan Maddux, building department, explained the requirements for the new ordinance. All state health requirements must be met to obtain a building permit, i.e. room for setbacks, potable water, septic permits, etc.

Commissioner Doug Heaton said if the state requires it, they take care of it. If the Health Department requires it, they take care of it.  “We want to avoid layered legislation.” The rural unimproved subdivision is not for commercial use.

Why go from 10 to six acres? Financial and affordability. The new ordinance will reduce building sites to six acres rather than 10. They did not approve five acres because if a farmer puts a home on acreage zoned green-belt, the minimum has to be six acres to retain green-belt status and meet FHA requirements.

Another reason given by Commissioner Dirk Clayson was if they split to five acres, it might create a situation where the farmer ends up living in a subdivision. Heaton said, “People should be able to buy or sell their property and build a home on their property.” He added, “I believe the government should not control the market. Change is good for the economy.”

Mary Craven commented, “It is fine to let people do what they want with their property, but we do need some sort of regulation.”

Caralee Woods asked, “Are we taking into consideration the amount of water use with this growth? Kane County already has the highest per capita water use in the state.”

There was discussion on less restrictive subdivisions. An example given would be paved versus gravel roads.  Heaton was okay with it, as long as people understand the county is not responsible for future infrastructure. People get what they pay for and not what the county will pay for. Improvements are up to the property owner. The county does not have control over state laws on building issues. Heaton continued, it is an increase in property rights.

Commissioner Jim Matson said he appreciated the informative discussion and supports the concept of facilitation rather than regulation. 

Clayson was okay with the ordinance, as long as they have minimum infrastructure to meet requirements for a building permit.    

Shannon McBride told the commissioners Iron and Washington Counties took out the ordinance because it created more problems.

The commissioners felt Iron and Washington Counties have more private land, and do not have as much federal/state land as Kane County.

There was a comment about an engineering concern that loss of county control with less restrictions can end up with “crappy subdivisions.” 

Heaton said that in our current economy, we are seeing a mass increase in homeless. With so much regulation, they have been priced out and can’t afford a home. There are a lot of foreclosures.

Ryan Maddux commented, “If we approve too many small subdivisions, that might come back to bite the county. It has happened in the past.”

The Unimproved Rural Subdivision Ordinance passed.

The next public hearing was approved to apply for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The county is considering a new Senior Citizen Center and to expand Care and Share.

The fourth public hearing was an ordinance rejecting proposals and denying municipal-type services for the storage or transfer of nuclear or radioactive waste. The ordinance passed.

Moving to other business, Clerk Karla Johnson gave a financial report and comparison handout on taxes, with a breakdown of sales tax, transient room tax, and restaurant tax.

The commission also set the schedule for meeting dates for 2012. They have not scheduled regular work meetings.  When needed, they will be posted.

The commissioners discussed and agreed on strategies to oppose the proposed cutback by the State Central Assessing and Collecting Committee. If the proposal passes, it will hurt Kane County by $114,000. Johnson said they have deviated from the original plan of equal assessing of large and small counties. Capping the amount from large counties places more of a burden on smaller counties. The Kane local levy is already higher than larger urban counties.

Clayson said, “We have to do something, even though the county is fighting a losing battle because we are outnumbered.”

The commission discussed the goals set in February 2011, which ones are accomplished, partially accomplished and which to continue. Some new ideas offered for 2012 are: A coordinated marketing strategy for tourism; Clean out the upstairs and develop a good record archival space that is secure; Use some of the jail space for archives; Review of the existing ordinances and resolutions; Consolidate and manage offices with space now made by the jail moving; Review Kane County building ordinances and why they are much different than Iron or Garfield Counties.