County coincides with CMAP panel goals

Gregory Harutunian

McHenry County representative to CMAP, Carolyn Schofield, moderated the Dec. 6 panel forum discussing housing trends as a component to the agency’s comprehensive plan, “ON TO 2050.”

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency on Planning conducted a forum to address shifts in residential housing and development, as a precursor to its “ON TO 2050” comprehensive plan to chart future growth trends in the northeastern Illinois area. The Dec. 6 session highlighted the concept that families are seeking more community oriented living arrangements and urbanization, rather than large-scale or rural estates.

The same tenet was forwarded with the McHenry County Board’s “McHenry County 2030 and Beyond” initiative, a draft report that updated 2010 population figures and incorporated the data into the comprehensive plan for the county. The report contains a provision for portions of the document to be re-visited and re-written, if need be, in five years.

Whereas the county data maintains an intent to implement policies related to land use, development, redevelopment, and the preservation of natural, water, and agricultural resources, the CMAP forum looked at expansion of the metro area, and methods of regional planning that can impact the residential growth in the coming 30 years.

The county’s Director of Planning and Development, Dennis Sandquist, believes the housing trends are moving toward more community-based siting with accessibility to amenities, as opposed to larger-scale estates.

“The entire panel focused on whether we come out of the housing and economic recession from several years ago, and it contributes to the need for urban sprawl,” said Dennis Sandquist, the county’s director of planning and development. “There’s been a change in momentum toward building communities and cities, like in the 1940s, with single-family residences, built for housing after the war … there were national highways constructed, tract housing.

“That’s where the market is going, and our ‘2030 and beyond’ policy addresses that shift. Purchasers are looking toward communities, rather than estate homes on 1-3 acres,” he said. “These projects in the municipalities and unincorporated properties have building permits issued that are, in fact, smaller. Multi-family homes, senior homes … my impression is smaller homes being built, since the market recovered.”

The CMAP panel was moderated by former McHenry County Board member Carolyn Schofield, in her capacity as the county representative to the agency. She was also instrumental in assisting with the updates to the 2030 document, which were broken down into four areas of concern, known as “the big ideas:” Let’s Make Our Communities Active, Healthy, and Green; Let’s Build On Our Strengths; Let’s Grow Smarter; and Let’s Expand Our Economy.

Each “idea” has inherent measures of execution through the coordinated efforts of the “county’s municipalities, townships, businesses, institutions, and residents,” as stated in a press release.

“A lot of the 2030 plan was consistent with two views, and brought out at the panel, that changing mindset from Millennials and baby-boomers that want more access to urbanization amenities, and that drives the change in housing types,’ she said. “The other is that land use, as expressed by one planner, that sprawl will continue in the area, taking over farmland.”

Curt Paddock, Will County Land-Use Director, had said that the trend of suburban outreach in housing was stopped with the 2008 recession, and his viewpoint is a continuation in coming years, unless a regional agency is given a mandated authority to intervene in land-use situations revolving around boundary jurisdictions.

“The Will County view on types of residential housing is changing,” said Schofield. “The changes still bring a sense of confidence in having more access to the region.” She had previously said the philosophical changes encompassed increases in aging population numbers while also reflecting millennials for McHenry County. The differences in the census figures for the county was the engine in the updated plan, “2030 and beyond.”

CMAP is expected to issue its 2050 findings and goals, and planning charts during the intervening years, sometime in 2018. CMAP is a state-authorized agency for regional planning in Lake, Cook, Du Page, McHenry, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties. The new comprehensive plan will revise policy for the seven counties and 284 municipalities of the Chicagoland area.