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Planning and Development - Division of Planning, Zoning and Land Use

How to File a Zoning Petition Application

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A zoning petition application is the paperwork filed with the Department of Planning and Development that seeks to amend zoning, add a conditional use, or add a variation to a specified parcel of land. It is prepared by a petitioner or their representative, such as an attorney. Once the Zoning Coordinator determines a submission is complete and meets all requirements of the McHenry County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), a public hearing date will be assigned before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) or the McHenry County Hearing Officer (MCHO) – depending on the type of request. The ZBA and MCHO are recommending bodies that hear testimony and review evidence to determine if the change requested in the petition is in accordance with the Unified Development Ordinance and the Comprehensive Plan. However, regardless of the ZBA/MCHO recommendation, it is the County Board vote that ultimately determines if a petition request will be granted.


Please note that this page is meant to be a summary of the zoning process. It is presented for informational purposes. Please consult the McHenry County Unified Development Ordinance, the McHenry County ZBA Rules and Procedures, and the MCHO Rules and Procedures for complete filing requirements.

It is the petitioner’s responsibility to ensure the accuracy and sufficiency of the application. Careful review of the requirements for a specific request by the petitioner, their attorney, or representative is recommended.


 Items required when submitting a petition APPLICATION

After the application has been reviewed and deemed complete by the Zoning Coordinator, a hearing date will be assigned. 

 Items & Actions Required after a hearing date is assigned but before the hearing is held

Attend your hearing: Give testimony and present evidence that supports your request, Upon conclusion of the hearing, the ZBA / MCHO will give a recommendation

 What to Expect During the Public Hearing  (Outline)
  • The Zoning Board or Hearing Officer opens the hearing and explains procedures
  • All persons who will ask questions or speak shall be sworn-in, under oath.
  • Petitioner gives an opening statement and testimony
  • The Standards of Approval should be covered now or during questions
  • The Zoning Board or Hearing Officer will ask questions of the Petitioner
  • Members of County staff and/or the public may ask questions (but not make statements) of the Petitioner
  • When the Chairman allows, members of County staff and/or the public may make statements about the petition
  • The Petitioner has the final chance to respond and make a closing statement.
  • The Chairman will continue or close the public hearing (i.e. the fact-gathering session)
  • The Chairman may open a Voting meeting or set a future date for one
  • During the Voting meeting, the Board or Hearing Officer will discuss the facts of the case, may propose conditions-of-approval, and may vote to approve, approve with conditions, or to deny a petition.  


 Items & actions Required after ZBA or MCHO Recommendation
  • Prepare a proposed Ordinance  (County staff)  
  • Pay court reporting transcription fees (Petitioner) 
  • File Public Hearing Transcripts from the court reporting service (County staff) 

When all the above are received, the proposed ordinance will be placed on the next eligible County Board agenda for the final vote. The County Board will act on the petition between 30 and 180 days after the final ZBA or MCHO hearing has concluded. 

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Below is a list of all documents needed to file a petition. One original of each is required. Please refer to the Glossary of Terms for more information about zoning terminology.


Application for Petition with verification

Download the application forms here

Acceptance of court reporting fees

Signing this section of the application confirms that you, as the petitioner, are aware that court reporting fees will be charged to you by a contracted court reporting service. Fees must be paid prior to a vote by the County Board. 

Consent to on-site inspection

Signing this section of the application authorizes the ZBA, MCHO, and County Staff to have access to the subject parcel prior to the hearing. The opportunity to inspect the property beforehand helps to reduce confusion at the hearing. The Petitioner is responsible for submitting this affidavit of consent with the initial application.

Acceptance of fees for notification

Signing this section of the application confirms that you, as the petitioner, agree to reimburse the County for the cost of certified mailing and publication to the newspaper in order to meet the notification requirements for a public hearing pursuant to Illinois State Statute. 

Legal notice of public hearing

This document will be published in a newspaper and sent to adjoining property owners and to interested official bodies once a hearing date is set.  County staff will issue all required legal notices on your behalf for the following:   

Publication in a local general circulation newspaper

Notice must be published in a local general circulation newspaper not less than 15 days and not more than 30 days  prior to the hearing date. County staff will cause the notice to be published for you.   

Adjoining property owners

Notice must be mailed (certified) to all adjoining property owners with the address of where each tax bill is sent. Those on the list will be sent a legal notice of public hearing by certified mail, which must be sent not less than 15 days and not more than 30 days before the hearing. County staff will compile this list for you.  

Governmental bodies

Notice must be mailed (certified) to all interested official bodies. This shall include: the McHenry County Conservation District, McHenry County College, all municipalities within 1 ½ miles of the subject parcel, all fire protection and school districts covering the subject parcel, and the highway commissioner(s) and supervisor(s) for the township(s) in which the subject parcel is located. Those on the list will be sent a legal notice of public hearing by certified mail, which must be sent not less than 15 days and not more than 30 days before the hearing. County staff will compile this list for you.  

Plat of Survey

This is a document prepared and stamped by a registered Illinois professional land surveyor. It must include a legal description, to be used on the petition, the legal notice of public hearing, and the ordinance. It should also depict all buildings and improvements on the parcel. The plat of survey will identify the boundaries of the proposed rezoning, conditional use, or variation. In some cases, this description will be identical to an existing parcel — so an existing plat may be used so long as it is accurate.  In other cases, a zoning parcel will be created that does not match any existing parcels' boundaries. For those instances, a new plat of survey and legal description must be created.  The Petitioner is responsible for filing this document with the initial application.  

Site Plan (for Conditional Use or Variation)

A site plan is a drawing that shows the location of a proposed structure or use. It does not need to be drawn to scale or produced by a surveyor. However, it is common for a site plan to be a copy of the plat of survey with proposed changes hand drawn on it.

Receipt of payment for a NRI letter or report

The McHenry County Soil and Water Conservation District reviews all proposed rezonings, conditional uses, and variations. At their discretion, a report or a letter will be produced expressing the District’s findings and conclusions. Because this may take a while to produce, only a receipt from the District is required to submit a petition. Please note, a report from the District may bring to light environmental issues on the parcel previously unknown to the petitioner. It may be helpful to wait for a report before submitting a petition in some cases. The Soil and Water Conservation District will send its report or letter directly to the Zoning Coordinator.  The NRI application is available here for download (27 KB).   

Filing fee

The filing fee must be paid by cash, check, or credit/debit card when submitting a petition. Current fees are approved by the County Board and appear on the fee schedule.  Download the Fee Schedule... (246 KB). 


Post zoning sign on property

A sign will be provided to the petitioner by the Zoning Coordinator. It is the responsibility of the petitioner to post the sign in a conspicuous place along the principal road frontage of the subject parcel at least 15 days prior to the hearing. The sign shall be removed as soon as possible after the hearing.  (See also “Submit Affidavit of Posting” below.)   

Mail legal notices 

County Staff will send the Notice of Public Hearing by certified mail to adjoining property owners and appropriate governmental bodies not less than 15 days nor more than 30 days prior to the date of the hearing. A memorandum or affidavit of mailing will be prepared and filed by County staff to confirm that the noticing has met all requirements.  

Publish notice in newspaper 

County Staff will send the Notice of Public Hearing to the newspaper not less than 15 days nor more than 30 days prior to the date of the hearing. A certificate of publication will be provided to County Staff to confirm that the noticing has met all requirements. 


Submit affidavit of posting

This is a document that verifies through a sworn statement by the petitioner that the posting of the zoning sign was carried out in accordance with all requirements. THE ZONING SIGN IS NOT TO BE REMOVED FROM YOUR PROPERTY UNTIL AFTER YOUR ZONING HEARING HAS BEEN CLOSED BY THE HEARING BODY. A sample of the Affidavit of Posting is available here for download (25 KB). Just replace the words in boldface type with your own information.

Certified mail receipts and signed return receipts 

When a letter is sent certified mail, a receipt is generated that shows the addressee and a green index card is affixed to the letter. That green card is required to be signed upon delivery of the letter and is then mailed back to the Zoning Coordinator. The Zoning Coordinator will verify the return receipts, that all noticing requirements have been met, and will file a memorandum to that effect. 

Submit certificate of publication
The certificate of publication is a document sent directly from the newspaper that published the notice of a public hearing. It is signed by a representative of the newspaper attesting when the notice ran. It also includes a clipping of the notice as it ran in the newspaper. The Zoning Coordinator reviews the date of publishing, the accuracy of the notice, and will file a memorandum to that effect. 

Reimburse fees to Planning and Development

The Petitioner is required to reimburse the Department of Planning and Development for the costs of certified mailing and publication prior to the public hearing. The Zoning Coordinator will notify the petitioner of the fees due. 

Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) report or letter 

The McHenry County Soil and Water Conservation District will send an NRI report or letter, upon its completion, to the Petitioner and the Zoning Coordinator. Information contained within the document may be a factor in the public hearing.    


Prepare the proposed ordinance

An ordinance is a document that contains the findings and recommendation of the ZBA or MCHO. The ordinance is what will be voted on by the County Board. The County Board votes on zoning matters at its meeting on the third Tuesday of the month. County staff will prepare the proposed ordinance on your behalf.  

Pay court reporting fees

The petitioner will receive a bill from the court reporting service contracted to prepare the transcript of the public hearing. This bill must be paid by the petitioner before the ordinance can be voted upon by the County Board.

Transcripts, which are sent to the Zoning Coordinator from the court reporting service

Transcripts for all public hearings held on the petitioner’s request must be received at least 18 calendar days prior to the County Board meeting to be eligible to be placed on the agenda. The court reporting service contracted by the County will provide transcripts to the Zoning Coordinator within 10 business days of a hearing. 

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