GENEVA – Mountain bikers will be limited further at the proposed Settler's Hill recreation area, after Kane County planners eliminated mountain biking trails from the plans that could guide the transformation of Settler's Hill from a landfill to recreational destination.
Wednesday, a County Board task force endorsed revisions to the developing master plan for the so-called Fabyan Property.
Among other revisions, the Fabyan Property Utilization task force opted to remove a cluster of mountain bike trails that had been drawn in on the landfill near the wooded areas of the Fabyan Forest Preserve.
The task force also removed a bike trail that had been planned to connect the excised mountain bike trail group to a larger mountain biking area still planned for the northeast corner of the landfill, away from the woods.
County Board member Mike Donahue, R-Geneva, said the Kane County Forest Preserve District had recommended removing that connecting trail from the plan, as it would run very near two proposed golf holes.
The task force also recommended the creation of a volunteer group to plan for and supervise the restoration of the wooded areas at the Fabyan Forest Preserve, located between Route 25 and the Settlers Hill landfill.
Task force members acknowledged the smaller mountain bike trail group was removed from the plan in response to pressure from opponents of the Fabyan Property plan, who worried the trails near the woods would encourage mountain bikers to also ride in the woods.
While prohibited from doing so, many mountain bikers now ride in the Fabyan Preserve's woods that lie between Route 25 and the shuttered landfills.
Many opponents of the Settlers Hill plan have advocated the removal of the Fabyan Preserve from the master plan altogether.
The task force previously had revised the plan to remove all activities, including mountain biking, from the Fabyan woods, leaving only the possibility of a standard bike trail running through the woods from the Fox River Trail to the landfill.
Members of the task force, however, said the woods must remain in the plan, as the connecting trail would be key to its success.
"You ought to be able to ride your bike from the Fox River Trail to any point within this recreational complex," Donahue said.
Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, a member of the task force, questioned the decision to remove the mountain bike trails, saying he believed they were being removed simply for "expediency."
Donahue acknowledged Burn's critique was not far from the mark, noting that political reality dictates he must secure a majority of Kane County Board members to see the plan become reality.
County Board members have debated the plan strenuously for weeks, with some on the board believing the planning process should be halted until the county removes the Fabyan Preserve from the proposal and conducts more extensive environmental analyses.
Donahue said those environmental and engineering studies, to determine how the county would deal with concerns over stormwater and erosion, among other concerns, would be conducted in coming months.
The revised master plan will next go to the Kane County Board's Development Committee for review on Tuesday.