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County Board to consider green infrastructure plan

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – The Kane County Board is on the verge of adopting a plan that focuses on the county’s natural resources, including woodlands, wetlands and trails and parks.

It is expected to consider the proposed Kane County 2040 Green Infrastructure Plan on Dec. 10.

The document defines green infrastructure as “an interconnected system of natural areas and open spaces including woodlands, wetlands, trails and parks, which are protected and managed for the ecological values and functions they provide to people and wildlife. Green infrastructure supports native species; sustains air and water resources; and contributes to the health and quality of life for people and communities.”

The proposed plan establishes Kane County’s existing green infrastructure and aims to lay the groundwork for green infrastructure planning at regional, community, neighborhood and site levels.

“It’s a tool that we can use for land use decisions you make as the County Board,” Mark VanKerkhoff, Kane County’s director of development, told the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday. “For municipalities, it’s really a vision they can choose to follow. Hopefully, they will.”

Dennis Dreher of Geosyntec Consultants, who provided assistance on the project, highlighted an example of green infrastructure that is just outside the Kane County Government Center, where the county board meets: permeable paving. This infrastructure better manages stormwater runoff, he said.

“Local government can – and probably should – be a leader if you want private developers to do this,” Dreher said.

And, he said, research shows green infrastructure is generally cost effective, as some practices might have lower up-front costs or a longer life cycle.

“I think our challenge is getting information out there,” Dreher said.

The Kane County Planning Division began working on the Green Infrastructure Plan early last year. The Chicago Wilderness Sustainable Watershed Action Team also provided assistance on the project.

A draft of the plan is available on the county’s website, www.countyofkane.org.

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