Wednesday, Nov. 12


Importance of planning brings county officials, state leaders to Peoria   Send a link to a friend

[NOV. 12, 2003]  PEORIA -- As Illinois grows, more county boards find themselves facing choices -- what lands to develop, what type of development they want and how to protect rivers and streams. To make sure Illinois remains economically competitive while protecting its natural resources takes planning.

The role of planning for Illinois' future will be the featured topic at a statewide planning conference, and the attendance of five major Illinois leaders reinforces how important the topic is in today's economy. 

"Partners in Planning," an initial conference co-sponsored by the Campaign for Sensible Growth, Illinois Association of County Board Members and Commissioners, Illinois Association of County Zoning Officials, and the Illinois Association of Regional Councils, takes place in Peoria today (Wednesday). The conference features experts and leaders from throughout the state speaking about issues ranging from sustainable development, zoning and economic development to agricultural preservation and wind power.

Among the Illinois leaders confirmed as speakers are U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria; Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn; state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka; and state Reps. Ricca Slone, D-Peoria, and David Winters, R-Rockford.

"Illinois' governmental leaders are attending the conference because they realize the urgency of speaking about planning with public officials throughout the state," noted Ronald Thomas, executive director of the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, and co-chair of the Campaign for Sensible Growth. "Well-thought-out planning means counties and communities consider how to achieve economic development and protect prairies, streams and farmland at the same time."

Growth is no longer an issue only for those who live in highly urbanized areas. Rural land conservation, the role of resource conservation and development councils, and developing county strategic plans are among the topics for the expected 200 attendees, most of whom are from around the state, outside the northeastern Illinois region.

Illinois political leaders who have confirmed to speak are concerned about growth and investment in downstate and rural communities. Rep. Slone is the sponsor of the Local Planning Technical Assistance Act, which defines a comprehensive plan and anticipates state aid to communities for planning. Rep. Winters, R-Rockford, is the sponsor of the recently passed Local Legacy Act, which promotes cooperative planning between counties and municipalities, with the goal of protecting cultural, historic and natural resources. Illinois' lieutenant governor heads up the state's Rivers Coordinating Council. 


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The final panel of the day deals with an issue in front of many, if not most, Illinois counties: wind power. The session will be a forum for stakeholders concerned with the objectives of utility-scale wind facilities, with case studies of Bureau and Lee counties.

Other sessions include:

--“Zoning at Its Best,” which looks at what can and cannot be done with county zoning and what to do when county and municipal zoning collide.

--“Taking Back Our Neighborhoods,” which focuses on investment in older neighborhoods and revitalizing downtowns. 

--“Ecotourism,” which explores ecologically sustainable tourism, including the use of conservation easements and the thriving Illinois wine industry.

--“Protecting Farmland,” which examines the pressures of unwanted development.

The Campaign for Sensible Growth is an action-oriented coalition of 200 organizations working to promote economic competitiveness in the northeastern Illinois region while protecting natural resources. The statewide associations of county board members, zoning officials and regional planning councils are the professional organizations for elected and publicly appointed officials who are faced with planning decision-making on a regular basis.

For more information about the conference, contact Ellen Shubart of Campaign for Sensible Growth at (312) 863-6009 or Kelly Murray of the Illinois Association of County Board Members at (217) 528-5331.

[News release]

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