RAVINE OVERLAY DISTRICT ORDINANCE
Project Description

Overview-

The recently completed Mossville Bluffs Watershed Restoration Master Plan identified an opportunity for the creation of a ravine overlay district (R.O.D.) to be used as a mechanism to continue the ongoing preservation and rehabilitation of the Peoria Lakes and the Illinois River Valley. After verbal encouragement from the Illinois River Valley Council of Governments ((IRVCG), an association of local municipal representatives), an effort to more thoroughly investigate the opportunity for development of a regional R.O.D. became a priority.

The R.O.D. will create a model zoning district that will be used to protect rapidly eroding, bluff and wooded areas (particularly those under developmental pressures). Recent analysis completed using the leam modeling tool project this encroaching development will consume approximately 8,500 acres (or 9.5 %) of local forested land over the next 30 years. The results of the leam modeling system identify the possibility of preserving a substantial portion of these sensitive areas via tools such as the proposed R.O.D.

The design of the R.O.D. model ordinance will allow for wide scale utilization and adoption from entities both inside and outside the Tri-County area.

Below is a detailed description of the R.O.D. work plan.

Work Tasks Estimated Time
1. Acquire verbal and written support from local representatives to solidify potential alliances, and inform local representatives. 25 hours
2. Create a working group consisting of local officials, staff persons, community leaders, and environmental specialists to assist in the ongoing development of R.O.D. 25 hours
3. With the help the working group utilize existing studies, GIS information, and the LEAM modeling tool, to outline site selection criteria used in designating proposed protection (a.k.a. overlay) areas. 75 hours
4. Create a regional coverage and map of proposed overlay areas through assistance and feedback from local planners, professional staff, and community leaders. 100 hours
5. Create and customize R.O.D. criteria and form a model R.O.D. ordinance. 225 hours
6. Promote the adoption and implementation of the R.O.D. ordinance to municipalities and counties throughout the Tri-County Area. 150 hours

The excitement of local officials coupled with current watershed restoration efforts and the utilization of the LEAM modeling tool all intertwine to create a strong foundation from which to undertake this exciting planning effort. The ultimate goal is to provide a customized process that allows local governmental bodies to implement a regional strategy that can be used for the protection and enhancement of the region’s environmentally sensitive areas.

Management Plan-

The R.O.D. project will be headed up by and staffed through the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission (TCRPC). The TCRPC is a regional body representing Tazewell, Peoria, and Woodford Counties and will bring professional staff support to the project specializing in zoning, natural resource preservation, erosion control, bluff preservation, GIS development, among many other areas of specialty.

The TCRPC has extensive ordinance development experience and is well positioned to introduce the R.O.D. on a regional scale.

Supporting Resources-

The Tri-County area has been blessed with strong local, state, and federal commitments towards the ongoing preservation and rehabilitation of the Illinois River, the Peoria Lakes, and the region’s abundance of natural areas. Numerous projects have been completed, or are in the process of completion, that strongly supports the preservation of these valuable assets. The resources list that follows is an example of the valuable resources that this project will be able to capitalize on and enhance.

Mossville Bluffs Watershed Restoration Master Plan:
The Mossville Bluffs Master Plan was created in 2002 with funding made available through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Conservation 2000 program. This plan identified practices that could enhance erosion and storm water control efforts within our region. The opportunity for a model R.O.D. was born.

LEAM modeling Project and the Future Landscapes Report:
The LEAM (Land use and evaluation and impact assessment model) model is a tool for predicting regional growth patterns and analyzing the subsequent results of those patterns. The model was created at the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana, and brought to Peoria as a demonstration project. This project was made possible by the IDNR, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, and the Governor’s Sub-cabinet on Balanced Growth.

The model would assist the R.O.D. development by identifying threatened natural areas, querying specific locals, and analyzing potential impacts of growth on these natural areas.

Peoria County Resource Inventory:
The Peoria County Resource Inventory is a project that identifies areas of natural integrity and researches ways that those areas can be protects. The resource inventory project will lend insight into how to identify these environmental areas, and act as a mechanism for implementing the final products of the R.O.D. which will directly promote the goals of both endevours.

Illinois River Valley Council of Governments:
The IRVCG, as aforementioned, is an organization of local municipal representatives (mayors in most cases). The IRVCG encouraged the advancement of the R.O.D, and strongly supports its development. This organization brings immediate buy-in and regional project support to the table at the on-set.

Conclusion-

Given the abundance of local resources and past planning efforts, the Tri-County area is well positioned to create a tool that will provide immediate relief and protection for the area’s natural assets The groundwork for collaboration and action has been set, the R.O.D. will now provide an opportunity for immediate implementation.