Will County Executive Larry Walsh on Wednesday announced he has an executive order prohibiting the use of aerial photography to initiate any Will County Land Use enforcement actions.
Walsh said the has been
debated for weeks by the county board following allegations of improper
use, adding that he wanted to
address any concerns some residents may have regarding the use of this
important tool in enforcing county laws.
“We have serious business to do at Will County and I have come to the conclusion that this issue has become a distraction that takes my staff away from important county business,” Walsh said in a press release. “Today I have issued an executive order that reaffirms our policy that county personnel shall not use aerial photography as the basis of launching an investigation of violations of county ordinances. This practice has never been utilized to my knowledge, and with this action, it never will under my administration.”
According to Walsh, county policies state a complaint must be registered by a resident before county personnel will begin an investigation of alleged county ordinance violations. Will County uses a complaint-driven process, rather than sending staff out on patrols to seek out violators, he said.
Aerial photography, and
other such tools, have been used to investigate violations, but only in
response to a resident complaint filed with the Land Use Department, Walsh said.
“As one of the fastest growing counties in the State of Illinois we have many challenges to efficiently serve the residents of Will County,” said Walsh. “Unfortunately, the use of aerial photography has been unfairly criticized when it really is nothing more than a tool that our Land Use department, local township assessors, emergency personnel, and many others use on a daily basis to effectively serve the taxpayers.”
The issue of aerial photography was voted down at a previous County Board Judicial Committee meeting, but the topic resurfaced at last week’s County Board Executive Committee meeting and was placed back on the May County Board meeting agenda.
“I am hopeful that
the county board will remove this item from its agenda for Thursday’s county
board meeting and we can move forward in a more positive direction,” said
Walsh. “I am optimistic that we
can continue our cooperative approach to enforcing county ordinances while
preserving resident’s right to privacy.”