An early look at county zoning in Illinois shows McLean County is not much different than similar areas on the issue of oil exploration. Some County Board members say they fear development is being stifled because of burdensome administrative hoops . But, Zoning Administrator Phil Dick says responses from about ten counties with combined urban and rural character show similar rules in place.
"I don't think we have found that they are any more restrictive. I think we have found they require as a special use in the agricultural district. There was one County that replied that it isn't listed as a use so they would not allow any drilling at all."
Most oil producing counties in Illinois, though, are in the southern part of the state and are small and rural. Dick says those types of counties tend not to have zoning at all and oil drilling would be easier than in counties with zoning. He says regulating development through zoning is a good thing for McLean County. The county land use committee continues to study the issue and will invite testimony from experts next month. Opponents of loosening the rules fear that if oil is found in southern McLean County the preferred extraction method would be hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. State regulation of fracking is currently held up in the House.
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