Policy for McHenry property variance requests debated

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 11:20 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 11:39 p.m. CDT

McHENRY – Neighbors should be notified on any requests that affect their property, a few McHenry City Council members say.

A discussion earlier this week was triggered by a request for a variance from the 5-foot setback required for driveways by city ordinance.

The request had made its way through the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and was before the City Council for final approval – but because the variance was for a provision in the city’s subdivision control ordinance, not the zoning code, notifications were not sent to the neighboring ­properties.

“I think it’s an injustice,” said Alderman Andy Glab, the sole council member to vote against the request.

He wasn’t against the proposed driveway per se, but he said the request should have gone through the same steps required by the zoning code.

“If it affects people, it’s our duty to let people know what’s going on,” Glab said. “Transparency in government for God’s sake. It’s not just what goes on at City Hall; it’s what we allow to go on outside somebody’s fence.”

He’s not alone in his thinking.

Alderwoman Geri Condon said she thinks it’s worth looking into.

“It’s always been my thought that if we can be as transparent as possible – and especially when you’re talking about something that’s going to be a change right next door – it’s always good to have every aware,” she said. “They may choose to not come to the Planning and Zoning hearing, but at least we’re giving them the opportunity to have the input.”

Condon, who is the chairwoman of the Community Development Committee, said she plans on talking to Deputy City Administrator Doug Martin about the issue and having it brought up at the next committee meeting for discussion.

Requiring notification for these types of variance requests would require a change to the city ordinance, so any proposed ordinance would have to make it through the committee level – both the Community Development Committee and the Planning and Zoning Commission – before coming to the City Council for a final vote.

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