Ecological Sustainability, One Property at a Time: Village uses GIS to illustrate the impact of a proposed steep-slope building ordinance

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The Village of Glencoe is home to three ravine systems that drain
into Lake Michigan. The property owners along each ravine enjoy scenic
views of wooden areas with free-flowing streams at the base of steeply
sloped bluffs. These bluffs are at risk for degradation if careless
development by a private landowner occurs. Recognizing the inherent risk
to life, property, and the local ecology, the Village proposed a new
ordinance in the fall of 2010 to encourage best practices in steep-slope
development. The “steep slope ordinance,” as it came to be known,
encouraged the use of building techniques that would reinforce and
stabilize the ground. However, many property owners felt that the
ordinance would infringe on their personal property rights. In response
to their objections, the Village board tabled the ordinance
indefinitely.

To address resident concerns, GIS is being used to illustrate the
impact of the proposed ordinance on a property-by-property basis. Once
the map is complete, Village staff will meet with the affected residents
individually and use a custom overlay in MapOffice™ Advanced to show
the ordinance’s impact on each property. This overlay will show that the
proposed ordinance will not limit private property development any
further than the current geography already does. Dashed lines are used
to depict the approximate limits: the orange line shows the threshold
for using caution when developing, and the red line indicates the point
where any proposed development will be required to use specialized
building techniques that mitigate the risk of landslides. This use of
GIS should help educate the public so that the ordinance can be enacted
to protect the local ecology as well as life and property.