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Amendment to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County's Land Use Policy

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Date Introduced: 9/2/2009
Date Passed:



Ordinance to require a report from FPD staff on any proposed transfer, sale, easement or us of FPD land prior to Board action on such request.

Full Text of Legislation:













Section I.  Title II of the Code of the Cook County Forest Preserve District, Cook County Forest Preserve Lands & Property, is hereby amended by adding Chapter 5, Authorized Conveyance of Property to read as follows:


2-5-1       Purpose


A.     In 1913, the Illinois General Assembly authorized the creation of County Forest Preserve Districts, and granted the Commissioners thereof, the specific power: “To acquire and hold lands containing natural forests, or lands connecting such forests for the purpose of protecting and preserving the flora, fauna and scenic beauties, and to restore, restock, protect and preserve the natural forests and said lands, together with their flora and fauna, as nearly as may be, in their natural state and condition, for the purpose of the education, pleasure and recreation of the public.”


B.     The Forest Preserve District is the single largest land owner in Cook County and has acquired to date, s system of forested lands and lands connecting them, totaling 68,000 acres, in accordance with Illinois State Statute 70 ILCS 810 which currently allows for the maximum acquisition of a total of 75,000 acres.


C.     It is the purpose of this Ordinance to establish rules and regulations governing the authorized conveyance of Forest Preserve lands.  The Board of Commissioners finds that such rules and regulations are required in order to protect and preserve the property, natural areas, forests, trees, vegetation, wildlife, scenic beauties, natural resources, flora and fauna, facilities and improvements of the District.


This ordinance shall apply to all persons, firms, partnerships, companies, corporations, municipalities, municipal corporations, special districts, school districts, unites of local government, the Federal Government, and the State of Illinois (hereinafter sometimes referred to as the “Applicant”) that desire to use, or seek ownership of any property of the District.


2-5-2       Request for authorized conveyance of Forest Preserve Land.  No person shall assert any right to Forest Preserve District land without appropriate authorization.


2-5-3       Sale of Surplus Forest Preserve Land.


A.     In 1923, the Cook County Forest Preserve Act (70 ILCS 810) was amended, deleting sale authority and the District no longer has statutory authority to sell its lands.


B.     In the rare instance, where the Board of Commissioners, after an exhaustive survey and report, determine that certain isolated tracts not now connected of impossible to connect with the main system of Forest preserves, are surplus, the Board may recommend, by a two-thirds vote of the members of the Board then holding office, to the state legislature, the sale of any one or more isolated parcels of land owned by the District whenever the Board determines the sale to be advantageous to the district.  Following authorization by the General Assembly, the Board shall approve the sale by a two-thirds vote of the members of the Board then holding office.  (see 1-9-1)


2-5-4       Transfer of Land.


A.     No transfer of such lands or authority to control and manage such lands in a manner inconsistent with the defined mission of the district shall be made for municipal, school or park districts or similar public or private uses.


2-5-5       Annexation


A.     Land owned by the District is not subject to annexation without express consent of the district (Illinois Statute 70 ILCS 810)


B.     In the rare exception where a public agency may attempt to annex Forest Preserve property without express consent of the district, the Board of Forest Preserve Commissioners shall resist rather than accede to such action, in Court.


2-5-6       Eminent Domain.  Property owned by the District is not subject to eminent domain or condemnation (Illinois Statute 70 ILCS 810).


2-5-7       Easements


For essential highway needs, for essential sewer, water or other public utility, underground, surface or overhead improvements required in the interest of all the public, where no feasible alternatives exist, the District may accede to such grants, in court, or otherwise, on the basis of the full, fair market value of the property required plus mitigation to account for damage to the natural environment.


2-5-8       Required Review Factors


A.     Various factor will be considered in reviewing a proposed transfer, sale, easement, or use of land including (a) the interest of the District,; (b) the benefits to the public in relation to the burden imposed on the District; (c) the land management policies of the District; (d) the protection, preservation, restoration and restocking of the trees, forests, property, flora, fauna, wildlife, natural resources and scenic beauties of the District; (e) the safety and general welfare of the public and of the Applicant; and (f) such other factors as the District deems relevant to the particular case.  The Board of Commissioners recognizes that each situation and request is unique.  Any action taken by the Board of Commissioners or the General Superintendent under this Ordinance is dependent upon the particular facts and circumstances of each case.


1.      The General Superintendent with the Planning and Development Department shall review any land conveyance proposal and prepare a report for the Board of Commissioner of the Cook County Forest Preserve District, who may refer the matter to the Citizens’ Advisory Committee and the Real Estate Committee.  The report shall review the proposal in terms of the factors outlined in A (above) and compatibility with the mission of the Cook County Forest Preserve District.  No land conveyance proposal shall be acted upon by the Board without such report.  The General Superintendent shall, on a regular basis, forward a list of the rejected proposals to the Board of Commissioners of the Forest Preserve District.


2.      Proposals deemed to be in accordance with the mission of the Forest Preserve District shall be referred to the Board of Commissioners of the Forest Preserve District who may refer the matter to the appropriate committee(s) including the Citizen’s Advisory Committee and the Real Estate Committee.  The committee recommendations shall be forwarded to the Board of Commissioners for action.  No land conveyance proposal shall be acted upon by the Board without such committee(s) recommendation(s).


B.     Public Notice


1.      Notice of any proposals regarding conveyance of the land and all meetings in relation to said use or conveyance shall be made public.  No less than three (3) full business days before any meeting of the Board or a committee or subcommittee, notice shall be provided to all Commissioners and to all news media and organizations that have requested notice of Board meetings and shall be made available to the public in the office of the Secretary (FPD Code 1-5-4).  The website of the Cook County Forest Preserve District shall also include a dedicated page listing all real estate acquisitions and proposed transfer, sale, easement or use of land.  The page shall be updated in a timely manner as action is taken.  In addition, notice shall be posted at the location of the proposed land conveyance.


2.      All meetings of the Citizens Advisory Committee shall be open to the public in accordance with the Open Meetings Act (5 ILCS 120/1 et seq.).


This Ordinance shall be effective upon passage by the Forest Preserve District Board of Commissioners.  Any application or request for consideration for land use submitted prior to this effective date, which has been considered by the Board and has been referred to the Citizens’ Advisory Committee, a Committee of the Board, or to appropriate administrative staff for review or action, shall be exempt from the provisions of this Ordinance.


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