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Several residents asked questions regarding the process to develop real estate, particularly in regard to opportunities to voice their opinion.
In this News Flash, the Village provides an overview of the development process, roles of the groups involved, and opportunities for public comment in both formal and informal formats. The graphical version attempts to summarize the process in a single image, while anyone wishing to read further may indulge in more detailed discussion below. The Village notes the discussion below is intended as a conversational summary and is not a legally perfect analysis.
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Development Review Process Overview
Overview of Real Estate DevelopmentThe process of developing real estate typically begins with a developer or land owner identifying property they believe would be more valuable if used for another purpose. Typically, this transformation of value and land use involves investment of significant sums of money in design, site grading, stormwater management, and infrastructure before a return on investment can be pursued. After giving consideration to the many risks involved, the developer initiates an application to the local government to review their proposal, ultimately seeking approval to begin construction.
If the property proposed for development is located outside the Village limits, the developer also petitions to annex the property to the municipality. Annexation is typically achieved through an annexation agreement, which sets forth contractual terms and conditions for the development. Although annexation may seem like the very first question to decide, it tends to be last item fully addressed and developed because the development plan itself is often integral to the terms of the agreement.
The local government engages in review of the proposal for consistency with local plans and requirements, often resulting in revisions to the original proposal. The review process typically involves the Planning & Zoning Commission, who reviews plats and plans, holds hearings on zoning matters, and issues their findings and recommendations to the Village Board, based upon the adopted plans and codes of the Village. The Village Board conducts a public hearing concerning the terms of the annexation agreement and is the final authority on the development proposal. The Village Board must grant its approval by a majority vote before construction activity may commence under the permit authority of the Village. In the case of the annexation agreement, at least five (5) votes are required to approve the agreement.
Role of the Local GovernmentThe local government's discretionary authority to approve or disapprove a development proposal varies based on each specific request. For example, there is very little discretionary authority concerning the subdivision of a small property already annexed to the village, requiring no new access roads, and otherwise compliant with local regulations. In other words, if the plan meets the code, the Village must grant approval. However, the decision to annex property under specific terms of annexation agreement provides significant discretionary authority. Between these examples reside many other cases that can involve more or less discretionary authority than these examples.
To help guide the longer-term development of a municipality, local governments often adopt long-range plans and enact local laws and regulations to promote realization of the plans and communicate to the public what to expect in the future. For example, the Village's 2015 Comprehensive Plan set forth general guides for the long-term use of land within the Village and published various maps and text to detail the thought process. Although plans are not law per se, the plan is used to support requests consistent with their vision and to protect against activities clearly contradictory to the desired outcomes.
When the developer's proposal is first evaluated by the Planning & Zoning Commission, it may or may not adhere closely to the plans and regulations of the municipality. It is the job of the Planning & Zoning Commission to give consideration to how well the plan addresses specific plans and regulations and ultimately forward their recommendations for consideration by the Village Board. As part of the recommendation process, the Commission may tie their recommendation to certain related conditions to be fulfilled.
The Village Board is the final authority on annexation and zoning matters associated with new development. While the Village Board gives due consideration to many technical items, the Board's ultimate role is to decide if the review process produced a development plan that is acceptable overall and deemed to be in the best interests of the residents of the Village.
Opportunities for Public CommentThroughout the development process there are formal and informal methods to voice your opinion and be heard.
Informal methods of public comment include phone calls and email to the Village and may be used throughout the review process. Although informal comments do not necessarily become an official part of the record, this method is useful to share comments or concerns earlier in the process. Residents are welcome to call the Village to discuss development proposals, or email using the address firstname.lastname@example.org. If using email, please understand the account collects comments and is not intended to provide for interactive discussion via email. If you have questions, please call (847) 464-5533.
Formal methods of public comment occur as part of the public hearing process, which involves taking an oath before providing testimony to the public body. In the case of the development proposal by D.R. Horton, there are two public hearings. Comments at public hearings are to be directed to the specific subjects of the hearings and become part of the public record. For example, the Planning & Zoning Commission will hold a hearing to consider rezoning upon annexation. Comments at this hearing should address the appropriateness of the proposed zoning classification(s) and special use permit for the Planned Unit Development. Comments accessory to these items venture outside the scope of the hearing and typically are not factors that can be considered in the decision making process. Similarly, the Village Board holds a separate public hearing concerning the question of the annexation agreement. Comments at this public hearing should be directed to reasons the property should or should not be annexed under the terms of the annexation agreement.