Crystal Lake rejects delay on watershed rules

CRYSTAL LAKE – City officials took a hard line with a McHenry County College official who requested a delay on a part of the city’s watershed ordinance.

The City Council unanimously denied the college’s request to temporarily excuse a section of the ordinance that requires three tiers of filtration in its sensitive and decidedly protected Crystal Lake watershed. 

The college is looking to repair its deteriorating parking lots, but asked to defer the filtration requirement pending its master plan. Currently, there are ball fields located where the extra filtration would be needed, but the fields would be moved under the college’s master plan.

MCC President Vicky Smith said the college would fully comply with the ordinance in eight years if the college’s master plans never materialize. If plans do move forward, the filtration requirement would be met sooner, she said.

A deferral, Councilman Brett Hopkins said, “translates to never happening.”

Smith also said it was a timing issue because the college wants to repair its nearly 40-year-old parking lot before the fall semester.

Council members rejected the idea of wavering on the city’s watershed ordinance. 

“A good long-term plan is knowing what the ordinances are and planning for them accordingly,” Councilwoman Cathy Ferguson said. “I don’t know why you didn’t take those into consideration.”

The college’s Board of Trustees earlier this year approved rebuilding parking lots B and D for a cost not to exceed $2.3 million.  

At least four Crystal Lake residents and another from Woodstock urged the council to reject the deferment, arguing it would set a bad precedent for future developers.

The City Council agreed.

“We have to treat you like any other developer,” Mayor Aaron Shepley said.