What is the Fox River Corridor planning project?

    The Fox River Corridor planning project is a collaborative planning effort between McHenry County and the City of McHenry, with support from Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s (CMAP) Local Technical Assistance Program (LTA), to create a comprehensive plan for the future of the Fox River and its adjacent communities from Burtons Bridge at Routes 176 to Johnsburg at North Chapel Hill Road. The plan will outline strategies and actions for communities to take and realize their long-term vision for the corridor.

    The project team will engage residents and stakeholders -- including riverfront property owners, land managers, waterway managers, residents, marina operators, boaters, paddlers, environmental and bicycle advocates among others -- to craft recommendations that reflect the needs and vision of the Fox River community. Recommendations to be included in the plan may relate to economic development, natural resources, recreation, open space, as well as access and transportation.

    When the project is complete, implementing the plan’s recommendations will rely on the individual and collective actions of corridor communities and stakeholders.

    What are the benefits of a Fox River Corridor Plan?

    A Fox River Corridor Plan will:

    • Build on existing plans and initiatives developed by the City, Villages, County, Conservation District, and State.
    • Establish a shared vision and goals.
    • Help set priorities, coordinate decision-making, and obtain grants. 
    • Identify strategies to boost economic activity, preserve natural resources, improve transportation connections, restore water quality, and enhance recreation.
    • Outline actions for county, city and village staff/officials, landowners and managers, waterway managers, businesses, and residents to meet goals.

    Who is developing the Fox River Corridor Plan?

    The Fox River Corridor Plan is being developed by McHenry County and the City of McHenry with support from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s (CMAP) Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program. The plan’s development is also under the close guidance of the Fox River Corridor Plan’s Steering Committee.

    Who is CMAP?

    The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is the regional planning agency for northeastern Illinois. CMAP serves seven counties, 284 municipalities, and over 1,200 units of government—the third largest metropolitan region in the United States. The agency was established in 2005 with the mission to plan comprehensively for economic prosperity and quality of life.

    Most recently, CMAP and its partners developed and are now implementing ON TO 2050, a new long-range plan to help the seven counties and 284 communities of northeastern Illinois implement strategies that address transportation, housing, economic development, open space, the environment, and other quality-of-life issues. To learn more about CMAP, visit www.cmap.llinois.gov.

    Who is on the Steering Committee and what is their role?

    The Steering Committee for the Fox River Corridor Plan is comprised of individuals representing a wide variety of interests and perspectives. The Committee is tasked with providing guidance and feedback on existing issues and opportunities, developing central goals, reviewing plan documents, and assisting with public outreach. Members include:

    • City of McHenry
    • Environmental Defenders of McHenry County
    • Fox River Ecosystem Partnership
    • Fox River Study Group
    • Fox Water Agency
    • Hermann’s Rest A While
    • Illinois Department of Natural Resources
    • Lower Fox River Alliance
    • McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce
    • McHenry County
    • McHenry County Conservation District
    • McHenry-Lake Soil & Water Conservation District
    • Moraine Hills State Park
    • Village of Holiday Hills
    • Village of Johnsburg
    • Village of Prairie Grove
    • Visit McHenry County

    How is CMAP involved with this project?

    CMAP fulfills its mission of planning comprehensively for the region by conducting long-range planning (see ON TO 2050) and providing planning services to local governments with decision-making authority, among other activities. In 2010, CMAP started the Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program to provide technical planning assistance to communities. In 2018, the McHenry County Department of Planning and Development and City of McHenry Economic Development Department submitted a joint application to the LTA program seeking CMAP’s assistance to develop a comprehensive plan for the Fox River Corridor Plan. The LTA program accepted the joint application in the summer of 2019. The project was initiated in December 2019 when CMAP staff began working with McHenry County and City of McHenry staff to develop the planning process and form the Plan’s Steering Committee. CMAP staff will continue to assist the County and City develop a comprehensive Fox River Corridor Plan.

    What is the process for developing the Corridor Plan and how long will it take?

    The planning process, developed in collaboration with McHenry County and the City of McHenry, includes four phases aimed at convening a diverse group of stakeholders—including river communities, land owners and managers, businesses, and residents—to craft a common vision for the river corridor from Burtons Bridge at Route 176 to Johnsburg at North Chapel Hill Road. 

    Phase 1: Project Orientation

    In this phase, the Steering Committee was formed, and a project kick-off meeting with the committee was held in February 2020. A brief summary of the study area and a project webpage were also developed and shared with the Committee.

    Phase 2: Existing Conditions Analysis

    In the second phase, the team will conduct research on existing conditions within the study area. This includes reviewing land use, regulations, plans, reports, and policies as well as interviewing the steering committee among others within the Corridor. The team will also hold a public open house to invite everyone to share their ideas about existing conditions and future outlook of the Fox River and its communities from Burtons Bridge to Johnsburg. Findings will be compiled into an Existing Conditions Report that conveys the team’s understanding of key issues and opportunities that the plan may address. The Steering Committee will review and provide feedback on this report prior to moving into the next phase. 

    Phase 3: Visioning and plan development

    During this phase a public meeting (visioning workshop) will be held to allow residents to illustrate their future vision for the study area and begin to identify key themes and priorities to be included in the plan. Once this is developed, the project team will begin drafting the plan. When fully drafted, it will be reviewed by McHenry County, City of McHenry, as well as the Steering Committee, and revised accordingly. 

    Phase 4: Public review and adoption

    The final phase is public review and adoption. CMAP, McHenry County, and the City of McHenry will hold a public open house to present the draft corridor plan to the public. The public will have the opportunity to provide feedback and/or ask questions of the County, City, CMAP staff, and the steering committee. McHenry County and the City of McHenry will lead plan adoption and assist with plan adoption by lead partner agencies. 

    When will the plan be completed?

    The project is estimated to be complete by Summer 2021.  

    What is the Local Technical Assistance (LTA) Program?

    With funding from a Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), CMAP initiated the Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program in 2010. The program involves providing assistance to communities across the Chicago metropolitan region to undertake planning projects that advance the principles of ON TO 2050. CMAP has issued RFPs annually since 2011 (except 2016). To date, approximately 200 projects have been initiated, more than 150 projects completed, and 20 additional projects are underway.

    The LTA program is currently funded by the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, HUD, Economic Development Administration, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Attorney General, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and Chicago Community Trust. See videos of an overview of the LTA program and "Planning Locally for Livability." Select implementation highlights are also available in a GO TO 2040 case studies library.