|Lemont Township is a 27 square mile area that currently
has a population of approximately 18,000. The Village of Lemont accounts
for about 12,500 residents. The Village of Lemont located in Lemont Township
is a mix of residential subdivisions with commercial, retail and industrial
areas located throughout the village. The village also has a historic
downtown that has been recently renovated. The unincorporated areas of
the township consist primarily of rural style subdivisions, farms, and
industrial along the sanitary shipping canal. There is a mix of large
and small housing subdivisions, providing for diverse and different architecture
and pricing in the community. There are about 97 acres operated by the
park district that includes 16 parks, 10 soccer fields, 3 basketball
courts, nine baseball fields, a walking path and picnic grounds. In addition
to this space is the Illinois and Michigan Canal walking path, and the
area commonly called the Lemont Quarries for passive recreation adjacent
to this path. All of these facts add up to a sustainable, thriving community
with livable traffic, congestion and noise.
An advisory committee was formed to look into development of an open
space plan. This committee developed the following goals for the open
- Become the community focal point for open space issues
- Work with the village on the comprehensive plan
- Establish adequate buffer zones for wetlands
- Establish bike/walking trails connecting different parts of the
- Promote conservation easements
- Identify funding opportunities
- Preserve and protect the quality of life and the character of
The means in which the acquisition of open land will further open
space purposes are:
- Land may be used to promote outdoor recreation opportunities such
as parks, outdoor sport complexes, picnic areas and wildlife preservation.
- Land may be used for soil conservation.
- Land may be preserved to maintain flora, historical sites and
- Land may be used to create greenways, bike/hiking trails, and
- Land may be used to retain rural quality of life.
One purpose of the Open Space Plan is to provide protection for sensitive
areas within the Township’s boundaries. This plan addresses and defines
several of these areas including:
Wetlands, Streams and Buffers
By fostering an understanding of the environmental importance of these
open space features, future protection and incorporation into the
built environment can be more readily understood and facilitated.
This section describes some of the economic and environmental benefits
these features provide.
Streams provide a number of important benefits including recreation,
storm water management, and wildlife preservation. Streams and their
buffers are home to countless species of plants and animals. The floodplains,
wetlands, and wooded slopes along streams are important parts of the
stream ecosystem, and in many ways determine the diversity and health
of a stream.
As development activity becomes more intense and consumes larger amounts
of land, forests and natural vegetation along streams are diminished.
The cumulative loss of large amounts of open space and natural land
reduces the ability of remaining land along streams to buffer the
effects of such intrusions as high stream flow, pollution and flooding.
Buffers are a critical "best management technique" that
reduces sediment, nitrogen, phosphorous, and other runoff pollutants
by acting as a filter, thus minimizing damage to the streams by improving
water quality. The effectiveness of buffers depends on their width
(which should not take into account such factors as steep side slopes,
soil erosion, and wetlands), the type of vegetation within the buffer
(some plants are more effective at nutrient uptake than others), and
maintenance of the buffer (natural vegetation is preferable).
Historical reasons for floodplain protection have been to guard against
injury to people and to prevent destruction of property. In the context
of this plan, relatively undisturbed floodplains serve a variety of
additional functions having important public purposes and benefits.
Floodplains are the product of natural occurrences and serve to moderate
and store floodwaters, absorb wave energies, and reduce erosion and
sedimentation. Wetlands found within floodplains help maintain water
quality, recharge groundwater, and provide habitat and natural corridors
for wildlife. Stream buffers found within floodplains also help to
maintain water quality.
Safeguarding the many natural functions performed by floodplains benefits
the Village and downstream communities by minimizing the risks (and
costs) associated with the loss of life and property; by contributing
to the maintenance of water quality which may directly affect drinking
water supplies and recreation opportunities.
|These elements help to define each community and make it unique. These
can include the old limestone homes, the historic places, or pre-settlement
sites. The preservation of these old limestone homes and surrounding
rural properties improves the community identity by providing a sense
of history and of place. Protecting historic market place at the downtown
of Lemont acts as a tourist attraction and provides a gathering place.
As an open space element these resources are easily identified because
most people recognize their value. They can also be protected because
of the variety of tools and laws governing their use.
In the past, connections for wildlife were everywhere
in nature, for human settlements were small, and their technology
did little to impede the movement of wildlife. Today, however, population
growth, urban expansion, and the construction of vast highway networks,
among other factors, have probably done more to interrupt wildlife
migration patterns than all previous human development.
There are significant opportunities to improve our current situation.
Increased awareness and scientific knowledge has taught us to move
beyond the simplistic notion of preserving nature in parks and isolated
refuges, and to seize strategic opportunities to connect these disjoint
parcels. The preservation and creation of wildlife corridors can enhance
the biodiversity of metropolitan areas.
The identification and connection of greenway trails and corridors
is a element of the plan. Greenways offer a way to preserve natural
habitat corridors and to promote plant and animal species diversity.
A greenway can also serve as a critical filtering zone; its wetlands
can absorb contaminants in surface runoff, and trees, shrubs, and
cover vegetation along the corridor can cleanse and replenish the
In an increasing urban nation, greenways provide much-needed space
for outdoor recreation and offer accessible alternatives to those
who do not live near traditional parks. A greenway is ideally suited
to such popular outdoor activities as jogging, walking, biking, fishing,
and canoeing. Greenways can provide safe, alternative, non-motorized
transportation routes for commuters going to work and children traveling
to and from school.
Greenways offer ideal possibilities for joint-use partnerships along
corridors with sewer, water, storm, utility, fiber-optic lines or
railroad interests. Greenways can help preserve the rural character
of a community to safeguard areas of visual interest by protecting
the ridgelines, river lines, river corridors, and scenic vistas. In
rapidly urbanizing areas, a greenway offers visual relief; its wooded
breaks can frame and distinguish neighborhoods in an otherwise undifferentiated
urban sprawl. In the countryside, greenways can work with programs
that preserve farmland and expanses of scenic open space. Greenways
can also act as natural, beautiful, buffers and transition areas to
permit diverse community elements to coexist.
Greenways are community amenities with an economic value. They enhance
the quality of life and can increase the value of surrounding properties.
Greenways have been shown to draw tourists and have been the catalyst
behind new commercial development and the revitalization of former
town centers. Greenways planned as elements of subdivisions can benefit
homebuyers and developers alike.
The Village of Lemont’s comprehensive plan has a greenway element
that this open space plan builds upon.
Soils have varying degrees of erosion and all soils are subject to
movement that increases as the side slope of the land increases. Control
of the erosion potential is usually achieved in the context of slope
regulation, where environmental protection is focused on those areas
where soil movement is most likely to be a problem; on steep slopes.
There are multiple means for protecting steep slopes. Preservation
of steep slopes adjacent to watercourses is especially important because
of the potential harm to water quality and aquatic habitat. Communities
must pay the economic costs associated with the loss of water quality,
as well as hazards such as flooding and landslides and other problems
caused by disturbances to slopes. The identification and protection
of slopes within a community helps to protect the community, and downstream
communities, from these hazards. Protection also provides aesthetically
pleasing open space and maintains local biodiversity.
The Village of Lemont's new Comprehensive Plan currently being reviewed
outlines a framework for future growth and development. One of the
key features of the plan will be population density and open space
preservation. Subdivision design is the most important tool available
to the community for the protection of open space and the development
of a connected greenway system. This plan calls for the following
elements to be incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan:
- Encourage creative design through the incorporation of environmental
and open space features into future subdivision developments.
- Develop open space connections through and between developments.
- Establish development parameters that address the protection
of open space.
- Design developments with a strong pedestrian and bicycle focus.
- Use developer incentives to achieve high levels of environmental
- Use relaxed yard setbacks to permit a structure to locate outside
of a stream buffer or away from steep slopes.
- Use cluster development of density zoning to avoid development
on the portion of a site that include a sensitive area, while maximizing
the zoning potential of the property by building on the remaining
parts of the site.
- Use flexible bulk standards, innovative design, larger community
open spaces, creative storm water management techniques, pond and
tree plantings to minimize environmental impacts and enhance the
- Protection measures should focus on flexible and innovative regulations
that affect the physical form, design, and layout of development
on a site so as to increase opportunities for protection.
- Adopt flexible development regulations and innovative tools that
will protect sensitive areas through the use of a streamlined,
flexible and innovative development regulations.
Attachment A is a list of parcels that the Township
Board may deem necessary to acquire in order to accomplish the purposes
of an Open Space Program. Attachment B is a map of the identified
parcels along with the proposed greenway.
|The estimated cost of implementing this plan is $10,000,000.
The approximate tax per $100 of assessed valuation, which will be levied
to provide the necessary funds for implementing the proposed plan, is
.15. Tax would be levied for a period not to exceed 15 years.
|All open space property will be purchased within five
years of August 14, 2001. Funding and acquisition of the land will further
comply with the Local Government Debt Reform Act.
The Township will not use condemnation as a means to acquire open
space under this plan. The use of land donations, conservation easements,
federal and state funding and land trusts will be used in addition
to the bond issue.
The Township will work with the Village of Lemont, Lemont Park District,
County of Cook, State of Illinois, United States Federal Government,
non-profit land preservation groups and other agencies in acquiring
open space in Lemont Township. The goal of this work is to meet or
exceed the dollar amount raised through taxes to further the purpose
of the open space plan.
Standards and procedures for establishing priorities for the acquisition
of parcels identified in the plan are:
- Large tracts of land are preferred except where smaller pieces
connect to make a comprehensive larger land site.
- An independent licensed appraiser will establish value of the
- An advisory board consisting of no more than five residents will
be formed. The Township Board will appoint the advisory board.
- No land will be purchased from any elected Lemont Township Official.
Parcels to be purchased will be made public prior to purchase.
|The following is a list of parcels that the Township
Board may deem necessary to acquire in order to accomplish the purposes
of an Open Space Program.