|FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are you trying to achieve with Protect Kendall Now!?
Protect Kendall Now! (PKN) is a comprehensive, coordinated planning process for land conservation, as well as increasing the pace of such efforts. Kendall County is the fastest growing county in Illinois and the fourth fastest in the United States. PKN does not prevent development and recognizes that we can have both development and open space conservation at the same time. But, if we are going to protect our county's best natural areas and open spaces for future generations, we need to plan for it on a county-wide scale before it's too late. The goals for this two-year initiative are to develop an open space master plan for Kendall County as a whole (completed), increase the public's understanding of the need and urgency to protect open space (completed), and to begin talking to potential landowners about land preservation options (on-going). The open space master plan, developed by consensus, can be followed for the next several years by interested parties.
Is PKN a new organization? Who is involved with the initiative?
PKN is not an organization, but rather a countywide effort that is coordinated by a Steering Committee consisting of local municipal, county and private sector representatives, including not-for-profit conservation groups. It is a collaborative and cooperative effort of building consensus around open space issues. A project manager employed by The Conservation Foundation handles the day-to-day administrative duties. PKN is supported by mayors and municipalities in Kendall County, the county board and Forest Preserve District, and other public entities and organizations, including some developers. The initiative has also received statewide support from area legislators (House Resolution 716). Click here to view the list of supporters and committee members.
How will the plan affect landowners?
The future use of one's property is a very serious decision. The open space master plan is NOT a zoning map and DOES NOT affect land prices or the ability of the landowner to sell, develop or keep their property in private ownership. The open space master plan simply maps land that has been identified in local and county plans or by the Steering Committee that should be protected for some specific reason (floodplain, wetlands, forests areas, high quality natural areas, etc.), similar to the mapping which is already present on most local governmental land use plans. Participation in discussions on preservation options is strictly voluntary by landowners. Public information meetings were held early in 2006, prior to local government support of the plan, where landowners and the public were able to review and comment on the draft open space maps, before it was considered for support by local governments and then printed. Click here to learn more about the Plan.
What is the budget for PKN and how is it funded?
PKN is a two-year initiative consisting of three components: developing a county-wide open space master plan (completed), increasing the public's awareness for protecting open space (completed), and implementing the plan over time (on-going). The two-year budget is $300,000, which includes developing and printing the master plan, implementing the public awareness campaign, paying the salary of the project manager, and the first year of master plan implementation (contacting landowners). Two-thirds of the two-year budget came from private sources while the remaining one-third came from fee-for-service contracts with local units of government. Private funds are from the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Grand Victoria Foundation, Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, and individual citizens in Kendall County. Click here for a list of funding sources.
How is public money used in the initiative?
Public funds have been allocated to the project from most county municipalities, Kendall County and the Kendall County Forest Preserve District. Theses funds were allocated based on a fee-for-service contract, just like any other contract. What would cost the county nearly $200,000 if they hired a consultant to develop this county-wide open space master plan, now costs them only a fraction since the majority of the funding comes from private sources and the remaining is being divvied up by local units of government. This is a similar joint effort to the countywide groundwater study currently underway and being paid for cooperatively by the local governmental entities. This arrangement saves the Kendall County taxpayer a lot of money. In addition, a consultant would not offer the education/outreach component or any implementation. All funds are placed in a restricted account with The Conservation Foundation, the project's fiscal agent.
What is the difference between PKN and current efforts to protect open space in Kendall?
Current efforts to protect open space in Kendall County are part of numerous municipal, county and private plans and programs. The county requires open space set aside in their developments, municipalities have included open space in their comprehensive plans, and the forest preserve district has a land acquisition program. Although there have been some joint efforts between entities, these efforts can be more effective with joint planning and coordination. Even though all of the individual efforts are important, PKN looks for logical connections of open space between communities, utilizes existing plans, and encourages the sharing of resources. Even with current efforts, approximately two percent of Kendall County is currently protected as publicly-owned open space. The question remains whether we can preserve open space fast enough to keep up with the rapid pace of development. The only way to preserve the amount of land necessary to protect our natural resources for future generations is to plan comprehensively, which includes intergovernmental cooperation and public-private partnerships. This is what PKN achieves- collaboration and partnerships to efficiently use available funds.
How will the open space master plan be implemented?
After the open space plan is approved and adopted by local units of government, landowners will be contacted to see if they are interested in discussing options to preserve their land. Several not-for-profit land conservation organizations are paretnering in this phase: The Conservation Foundation, Fox Valley Land Foundation, and CorLands. This is strictly voluntary for landowners. No landowner is obligated to discuss their plans with anyone. For those who are interested in talking about the future of their property, The Conservation Foundation and its partners will provide information to landowners and, at their pleasure, discuss preserving their property. Strategies may include simply retaining private ownership, designating a conservation easement, and donating or selling to an open space agency or organization. For those landowners who are developers, discussions will focus on how to protect open space within the development consistent with the vision set forth in the open space master plan and government plans. The goal, as landowners agree and funds become available, is to come as close as possible to mirroring the master plan over the next several years. Purchases of land, land donations and conservation easements are some of the tools available to landowners. To date, all three of these methods have been used successfully in Kendall County. Click here for more information about land conservation options.
How much land will be preserved?
There is no preset amount of land or percentage of land being considered. The planning process identifies land already designated as existing or planned open space in various comprehensive land use plans and then considers other high quality natural areas to preserve. The plan shows the amount of land necessary to preserve the unique, scenic and high quality natural resources found in Kendall County. However, any area identified on the plan as potential open space will not be targeted for involuntary acquisition. The natural resources base, along with what the public wants and is willing to pay, will ultimately determine the amount of land to be preserved.
Who is The Conservation Foundation and what are their activities in Kendall County?
The Conservation Foundation (TCF) is a 35-year-old regional not-for-profit conservation group based on a 60-acre farm in unincorporated Will County near Naperville. TCF is a grass-roots membership-based organization and has more than 3,000 members, including several hundred in Kendall County. It receives its funding mostly from memberships, donations and grants. TCF's activities in Kendall County began in 1997 after requests came from Kendall County citizens and officials asking for help with open space acquisition, sustainable development education and watershed protection programs. TCF organizes educational seminars on sustainable development, purchases land in cooperation with local agencies and advocates for open space protection, and helps coordinate watershed protection projects. TCF has a Kendall County resident on it Board of Trustees, 22 Kendall County residents on its active Advisory Council, and four staff members who reside in Kendall County. Recently a Program Office was opened at 2550 Dickson Road, Montgomery, IL. It houses TFC's Land Preservation Division.
What is the role of The Conservation Foundation in PKN?
TCF initiated PKN after a year of discussions and planning with area elected officials and planning experts. TCF hired a full-time employee, a Kendall County resident, to coordinate the day-to-day duties and provide leadership to the project. The ultimate outcome, however, is based on the local partners and their support of the plan. TCF acts as the fiscal agent for all the funding and has obtained significant private funds for the project.
For more information about Protect Kendall Now!, visit www.protectkendallnow.org or call project manager Stephanie Sheetz at (630) 553-0687, ext 304.