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Settler’s Hill plan draws endorsement

GENEVA – The plan to guide the future transformation of the Settler’s Hill landfill has secured a key endorsement as supporters of the project prepare the work for its next stages.

Tuesday, the Kane County Development Committee recommended the full County Board approve the latest iteration of the master plan for the redevelopment of the closed landfill and the surrounding area.

“This is a very important project,” said County Board member Mike Kenyon, R-South Elgin, who chairs the development committee. “Very, very important.”

The plan has been the subject of discussion and debate for months.

Supporters of the project hope the plan will guide the transformation of the landfill into a regional recreational destination.

The plan calls for trails for cross country running and mountain biking; a hilltop observatory; a winter recreation area with ice skating ponds; an 18-hole golf course; and an outdoor music venue along Kirk Road.

Since 2011, planners have revised the plan to reflect wishes and desires of county officials and respond to the concerns of the public. Many of those concerns had centered on proposals for various recreational activities within the woods at the Fabyan Forest Preserve.

Initial versions of the plan had included such proposals as mountain biking trails within the woods, which drew strong criticism.

In the most recent version of the plan, which was endorsed by the development committee, planners had removed all proposals for the woods, with the exception of a bike trail intended to connect the broader proposed Settler’s Hill recreational area to Fox River Trail to the west.

County Board member Mike Donahue, R-Geneva, who has chaired the special task force overseeing the development of the plan to date, also noted the Kane County Forest Preserve District and the County Board will establish a volunteer working group to develop a woodland restoration and management plan for the Fabyan Woods.

He said that group, which will include representatives of the public – including those who criticized the earlier Settler’s Hill plans – will meet over the winter to create a scope of work for future studies and management of the woods.

Donahue noted environmental and engineering studies on the landfill would be conducted later, perhaps as soon as early next year. That promise appeared to mollify some critics of the plan on the committee, including County Board member Barbara Wojnicki, R-Campton Hills.

She joined the committee in unanimously recommending approval of the master plan.

It will next go to the County Board Executive Committee for further discussion, likely in October. And the Forest Preserve District Planning and Utilization Committee will take up the matter later this month.

Should the full County Board approve the master plan this year, Donahue said he would be happy to leave actual implementation of the plan to the next County Board, which will be elected in November.

“This is a good stopping point, I think,” Donahue said.

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