Village of Homer Glen Approves Conservation Design Ordinance
The Homer Glen Village Board took action to insure achievement of the goals and objectives of the Village's Comprehensive Plan, as well as it's mission statement and core values by approving a new Conservation Design Ordinance at its July 25, 2006 meeting. Over a thousand acres of new open space could be added to the Village with this new, innovative, nature-friendly ordinance. This is one of the strongest ordinances of its kind in the country, and the only one in Illinois that requires mandatory compliance by developers, with no incentives or bonuses being provided to developers.
The new open space will be acquired over time as a requirement of future residential development at no cost to the taxpayers and with no bond referendum needed. This is a dramatic new approach to residential development in our village and is the product of many months of work by the Mayor, Village Trustees and staff.
The ordinance requires developers of new residential subdivisions to set aside between 20% and 50% of the area as permanent, dedicated, publicly-owned open space. The amount of open space is dependent upon the zoning of the property and is mandatory for all residential developments over 10 acres in size. The only exceptions lie within mile of 159th street or Bell Road because of their commercial nature, estate size zoning of over 1.5 acre lots, and portions of the village not served by sewer and water.
Other conservation design ordinances in a handful of other communities and counties are on a voluntary basis and offer developers incentives such as density bonuses of more housing units per acre in order to entice them to do conservation design.
Open spaces will be created through carefully planned clustering of homes with the vast percentage of homes being adjacent to open space. The new ordinance also uses a "net density" approach that removes environmentally sensitive lands and roads prior to the calculation of number of units allowed per acre of land.
Since the ordinance is mandatory, open spaces can be connected from 1 neighborhood to the next, where feasible, creating an extensive, interlinked network of open spaces. The new open space areas will not only allow the Village to further protect environmentally sensitive lands, but also allow additional trails, walking paths, and parks to be built. Connected open spaces will also promote and protect wildlife corridors. Many of the Village's scenic vistas can be saved, helping us to preserve our rural character and way of life we have all come to enjoy. The Village will also benefit from reduced infrastructure maintenance costs in the future since fewer miles of roads and utilities will be needed. Flooding and drainage problems will be reduced because there will be less overall impervious surface creating runoff. Similarly, declining groundwater aquifers will be recharged because more impervious areas will allow rainwater to soak in.
Homer Glen has been blessed with many high quality neighborhoods and open space areas and the Village has already taken many actions to assure continuing quality development in the future. To date we have adopted:
- Comprehensive Plan
- The Green Vision Program
- Exterior Construction Standards Ordinance ("first floor brick" ordinance)
- 15,000 square foot minimum lot size amendment to the Zoning Ordinance
- Tree Preservation Ordinance
Conservation Design Ordinance
The new Conservation Design Ordinance and the large new parcels of inter-connected open space lands it will create will be the most important action this Village Board has taken to date to realize our goals of incorporation and adhere to our mission statement and core values.
The Conservation Design Ordinance will allow Homer Glen to leave the greatest legacy we can for all future generations - Our Community and Nature . . . In Harmony.