Woods && Wetlands

Woods & Wetlands

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Joining Illinois Sierra Club Members in Lake and Northeastern Cook Counties

SIERRA CLUB NEWSLETTER, The Sierra Club, 1 N. LaSalle St., Chicago, IL 60602 October, 1998

Issue #25

Robert Lipshultz

by Mary Van Vactor
 The Woods and Wetlands Group suffered a great loss in the recent death of Robert Lipshultz of Lake Villa. An active member of our group, Bob was a volunteer steward at Sun Lake Forest Preserve and a former group Executive Committee member. He often participated in Sierra Club outings. He was also active with other organizations, including the Friends of the Volo Bog and the Boy Scouts of America. Those of us who knew Bob will miss his intelligence, perceptiveness and his willingness to work hard for the causes he believed in. Our condolences go out to his family.
The Central Baptist Children's Home will have a memorial service for Bob at the North Shore Baptist Church Chapel, 5244 North Lakewood, Chicago, IL. For information, call Amy Younts at 847-356-2391.

Dirty Tricks on the County BoardReturn to Top

by Evan Craig
Sadly, the present Lake County Board leadership has failed to respect our concerns for the monetary and environmental costs of rapid, poorly planned development. In the absence of a pro-growth supermajority, they are still resorting to underhanded tricks against the present environmentally aware Board members. In a typical tactic, controversial topics are given enigmatic titles on the agenda, and the supporting documents are withheld from "green" Board members until the item is about to be discussed. Thanks to weekday meetings, few residents can attend to witness these stunts. It's time for even handed leadership, and fair play. We deserve to know, and for all Board Members to be informed in advance about any issue addressed by the Board.

TIME TO ACT ON COUNTY DEVELOPMENT ORDINANCE (UDO)Return to Top

By Mary Van Vactor
Your help is urgently needed in the fight to preserve open space in Lake County!  The newest draft of Lake County's Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) is currently under review by the Lake County Board.  Zoning maps, which had been withheld from the public until now, have also been released.  The new maps show a wholesale rezoning of undeveloped areas.  The housing density would be doubled in many areas, and new uses allowed in many others. In addition, a new provision, called "takings relief," would allow developers to appeal zoning decisions to the state's attorney general. This provision would encourage the Board to approve developments rather than risk a costly court battle.

Despite these changes, no public hearings have been planned.

The UDO will set zoning and shape future development in unincorporated areas. Most of the land affected is in the north and west of the county, where development is already threatening to overwhelm available services and gobble up open space.  Environmental advocates on the County Board were often shut out of the drafting of the original document, and their suggestions and concerns have been disregarded in this new version as well.  Equally troublesome are the items still missing from the UDO: watershed protections and the update of the framework plan.  Watershed protections and storm water management regulations have been omitted from the UDO, with the promise that they will be included in a watershed development ordinance to be completed at some later date.  And the update of the framework plan, which should have been the first step in the process, has not even begun.  The pro-growth faction of the Board is no doubt hoping to circumvent public discussion and disapproval by proceeding piecemeal with these interrelated documents.

And proceeding they are, with haste.  Despite objections by the Board's environmental friends, Chairman Robert Grever is hoping to pass the UDO before the make up of the Board changes in January.  The new, greener board is expected to be about 50% environmentalists, but the green team will not have the two-thirds majority needed to amend the flaws in the UDO.

Your help is urgently needed to improve the UDO before it is passed.  The public must be given the opportunity to comment on this important document.  Call your County Board representative and demand that hearings be held throughout the county. Then, watch the newspapers and attend these meetings.  Also, you should ask that environmental protections be strengthened and that the "takings relief" clause be removed.

For more information and action ideas, call Mary Van Vactor at 847-949-1355.
 

WOODS AND WETLANDS ELECTIONSReturn to Top

The W&W Executive Committee is made up of 5 members who serve 2 year terms. They decide political endorsements, plan programs, interact with the Illinois Chapter and national Sierra Club, and decide what projects and issues the Woods and Wetlands Group will involve itself in. Three of the five positions are now up for election. It is important that W&W Group members cast their votes in the election. so please consider the statements below, then send in the ballot.

Evan Craig  has served on the Executive Committee for 1 term, and as Chair for 1 year. He believes that the Group's ability to protect the Lake County environment depends upon involving members in their local issues. Evan has launched and maintains the Group website, hot-line, e-mail alert network, and has produced Program Meeting tapes for cable TV to accomplish this goal. Meanwhile, Evan frequently represents the environment at meetings with public officials.

John Massman was co-founder of W&W's swamp squad in northern Lake County and has been active in W&W for the last five years. for the last four years John has been an effective Conservation Chair. John is very interested in the development and transportation issues that pose the greatest threat to the environment and character of Lake County and northern Cook County

Barry Juras believes that the rapid and permanent loss of natural resources to new development, the extension of Route 53 into Lake County, and the corresponding environmental disaster must be stopped. "It falls upon organizations like ours to become focal points towards this end. That's where I stand. That's what I will work toward."

Dave Szaflarski has lived in Lake County for over three decades and enjoys our open spaces. He's active in local conservation and restoration activities with Lake Bluff Open Lands Assoc., and also as a volunteer steward with the LCFPD. He wants to help make W & W a fun and active organization.

HOW TO VOTE:
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 You may vote for up to three candidates by marking the box next to their names. Cut out your completed ballot and send it to our mailbox, PO Box 5012, Vernon Hills, IL 60061 by December 1st, 1998. Do not put your name on the ballot. Families with multiple members may place multiple checks on one ballot. Please note all members names on your envelope.

__  Evan Craig        __ Barry Juras         __ John Massman      __ Dave Szaflarski
 
 

Woods and Wetlands 1998 General Election EndorsementsReturn to Top

Click here to go to the endorsements from the Sierra Club site. Click here to go to the endorsements page from the Interaccess site.

Victory of all eight of our endorsed County Board candidates this Spring demonstrated voters' growing concern for our disappearing open space, and disapproval of the suburban sprawl that has resulted from a decade of pro-growth politics. Since then, your Woods & Wetlands election committee has been busy evaluating more candidates, and we are pleased to present another slow growth Board candidate, Bob Sabonjian.
While most of Lake County's Board races are decided in the primaries, Bob and three of our other endorsed candidates face opponents in the final elections on November 3. Peggy Shorts, Loretta McCarley, and Al Westerman will be relying on your vote.

The spring vote counts showed stunning percentages in favor of our candidates, but the overall turnout was low. More voters are likely to turn out for the final elections, and we should not rely on our previous voters to reap the same results. If you care about the rare concentration of endangered species that call our county their home; if you are fed up with new traffic on old roads, bursting schools, and more floods; Now is the time to do something.

One of the most effective things you can do is let your neighbors know that you'll be voting for the future of the Lake County environment, by sending them a neighbor to neighbor postcard. Just tell them that you trust an endorsed candidate to represent you. You can get some with Sierra Club W&W logos from us, or just make some of your own. As long as it's personal, you will make a good impression for our candidate and for the Group, and you might make a new friend!

Our endorsement process included the same thorough process described in our March Newsletter. In addition, through the state Chapter endorsement process, we are proud to endorse Lauren Beth Gash, and newcomer Susan Garrett for Illinois Assembly. Their endorsement questionnaires included a broad range of topics, and these candidates responded well to questions about impact fees, toll roads, and protection for state ndangered species. John Porter, our environmental rudder for the Republican party, was endorsed for US Representative.

Loretta McCarley, Candidate for Lake Co. Board, District 2, is running for the now vacated seat of Robert Neal.  A long time environmental activist, Loretta's effort in 1998 resulted in the Forest Preserve District's acquisition of the Waukegan Savanna Forest Preserve. More recently, she fought the proposed Yorkhouse Road extension through a forest preserve.  She is now leading the battle to stop the Waukegan Airport from taking 80 acres of the Waukegan Savanna Forest Preserve for a new runway.

Peggy Shorts, Candidate for Lake Co. Board, District 9, our only Democratic endorsement for the Board this spring, seeks the seat currently held by Democrat Debra Halas. Halas' coziness with the county's pro-development Republicans has led us, and other environmental groups, to deny  her our support.  Ms. Shorts is endorsed by former State Representative John Matejevich, a staunch environmental ally. We expect Peggy to cultivate a strong bipartisan pro-conservation majority on the Board.

Robert G. Sabonjian, Candidate for Lake Co. Board, Democrat from District 8, seeks to represent a unique sector of Lake County which contains some examples of the worst problems we face in the area for environmental cleanup i.e. the Johns Manville plant and the lakefron brown fields.  District 8 also offers one of our best of Lake County locations, Illinois Beach State Park, home to several rare and endangered plants. One of Bob's goals is to encourage cooperation among Board Members in protecting the natural resources of Lake County.  Bob is adamantly against the exchanging of established wetlands for alternative sites to facilitate new development, be it private or government.  Waukegan depends on the re-development of its underutilized economic potential if it is to survive in the future and thus make all of Lake County a better place to live.

Susan Garrett, Candidate for Illinois State Representative, 59th District has accomplished much for her community as a voice for government accountability and responsible development. Susan brings an outstanding record of success as community advocate, businesswoman, and leader to her candidacy.  She will continue focusing on the quality of life issues that have been her platform for years: better education, well planned community development and government that's open and accessible.

Susan believes that residents have a right to be informed and included in the development planning process in their communities.  She urged the City of Lake Forest to initiate a special census - now underway - to define the impact of the city's growth and help determine the resulting need for schools, roads, parks and services.
 

THE FUNDAMENTAL IMBALANCEReturn to Top

by Evan Craig
The number of people contacting Woods & Wetlands, concerned that their wetlands are being threatened, or that the local village is about to annex hundreds of acres of farmland to invite in new development, has been increasing. By the time we can take action, the developer's plans are usually well under way, and our options are limited.

This Spring it was Hawthorn Woods' Barry Juras who wanted to save a wetland on Kruger Rd. Though small, and bordered by the housing development where Barry lives, it has been reclaiming farmland and attracting threatened egrets, and other native fauna. Juras has appealed for the fate of the wetland to his town board and his neighbors. Since joining forces with Sierra Club, he has contacted a half a dozen government agencies that have a role in determining whether that wetland will be saved. (See the guide he wrote based on his experience on the W&W website.) That wetland, like each of the thousand other little wetlands that dot Lake County, seem inconsequential, but are vital threads in the fabric of Lake County's outstandingly rich natural heritage. The marvelous Indian Creek Heron Rookery, which we visited on an outing a few weeks later, is only a few miles away. Those magnificent birds rely heavily on the surrounding network of wetlands like Barry's.

In July, an activist busy working to protect the Glenview Prairie at the retired air station (where 400 concerned citizens hiked their threatened prairie last month) put me in touch with Lex Provanzo, who lives near Volo. Lex was alarmed that the tiny town of Volo was about to annex their way to border Fox Lake. In a tiny meeting room, the Mayor, who's hog farm was originally a wetland, explained that he intends to anex hundreds of acres of land zoned Countryside by the County, and sacrifice it to an industrial park, and a big housing development. He will then stand by idly as Fox lake puts in another few thousand homes in an adjacent development. Questions revealed that Volo has made no plans to deal with the increased burden that will be placed on the roads, the schools, or the aquifer (which the Mayor said could provide an "unlimited" supply of water). Why is he doing it? Volo's septic systems are failing. They will not be permitted to sink new ones in their wet soils, and cannot afford their own treatment center. They intend to tap into the Fox Lake sewer system. By then, that will be the least of their concerns. The Mayor plans to retire on the proceeds of selling off his farm for even more development. Lex, who lives just outside of town, doesn't even get a vote on what Volo does.

Yesterday there was a message on the hotline from Bob Wargaski. He's a resident near Island Lake, alarmed about that town's plans to annex wetlands to build a 500 MW fossil fuel power plant. The facility will draw millions of gallons of water from the same aquifer Volo plans to deplete, decimate Black Crown Marsh (200 acres with threatened and endangered species), and will abut Moraine Hills State Park. Instead, we could invest in more efficient refrigerators and air conditioners, or deploy renewable energy sources, and say no to this destruction of our natural environment.

The first lesson in CPR/first aid (required for Sierra Club Outings leaders) is: don't assume that someone else is doing anything to help. The same lesson applies to rescuing our region. There is an environmental disaster being planned in nearly every square mile of it, and if you don't act because you think that someone else is probably doing anything to fix it, the "victim" might die. With the accelerating pace of development, most activists are overloaded, and don't have time to fight every open space battle that hatches. The next time you see cornfields, think houses. See wetlands, think strip malls. Then do what these residents are doing: call "911" and resuscitate the "patient." (Contact W&W, and then organize to save the heartland savanna.) Individual battles to preserve the quality of our region are vital, and fighting them makes it painfully clear that the economics and statutes that are driving suburban sprawl are seriously flawed. New development does not pay it's way, undermines urban renewal, and is regularly courted by municipalities engaged in a ridiculous growth competition. The power of a municipality to annex unincorporated land gives urbanization an unwarranted advantage over "ruralization." We need to ask our elected officials to change the system, and work together, so that built-in incentives redirect development to urban areas, and save our natural heritage. We also need habitat protections for State Endangered Species. Assuming the US Army corps of Engineers fails carry out their order to end wetlands destruction, we need State restrictions on Nationwide (wetlands destruction) Permits. These permits are regularly premised on ludicrous and unproven wetlands "mitigation" boondoggles. Now is a good time to remind your representatives (town, county, state, and federal) that these are important issues that we need to have addressed. Contact them during this election season, and ask them to explain what they intend to do.
 

OPEN SPACE REFERENDAReturn to Top

So far, Cook County has set aside just over 10% of their open space, and are proposing a much needed bond referendum to save the best of the few remaining percent. Lake County has set aside only 7%, and is proposing  to set aside only a few percent more from our 25% remaining open space. While much more pervasive measures are needed to preserve the character of our Woods & Wetlands region, these referenda are needed to save some of our most vital wildlife habitat from the bulldozer, and maintain adequate natural areas to serve our growing suburban populations.
Keep in mind as these issues are discussed in the media, that the additional taxes to support the Lake County Forest Preserve Referendum is only $6/month for a $200k house. That's less than a movie.
 

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