DeKalb County, Illinois: First in Agriculture

This CAE working paper looks at how well DeKalb County, Illinois is protecting its farmland. DeKalb County, located approximately 50 miles west of downtown Chicago and 25 miles from the rapidly growing suburbs of Aurora, St. Charles and Elgin, has some of the best farmland in the world. It is also a prime target for future development. With only 82,000 people and most of its 249,000 acres in farms, DeKalb County the smallest population of the eight counties in the Chicago region. The county has been a leader in the state in efforts to preserve farmland. It was one of the first counties to limit building of non-farm dwellings in areas zoned for agriculture, and to make preservation of prime farmland a basic goal in its land use plan and policies. In 1996, DeKalb County voted against a proposed residential development in a prime agricultural area near one of its municipalities and was subsequently sued by the developer and owner of the land in question. Significantly, the Court found in favor of DeKalb County, agreeing that the public interest in protecting prime farmland is legitimate and should prevail. The court challenge prompted the County to review its legislation authority to restrict residential development in agricultural areas and to seek clarification of the law. Protecting prime farmland continues to be a priority in the county.

Author: 
Susan Jo Gehl and Jerry Paulson
Publisher: 
DeKalb, IL: American Farmland Trust
Page Numbers: 
12
Publication Date: 
November 1, 1997
Literature Category: 
Reports and Studies