Op­po­nents boo vote to ad­vance NorthPoint devel­op­ment

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - NEWS - By Ali­cia Fab­bre

Plans for a 103-acre light in­dus­trial devel­op­ment got a nod from Joliet’s plan com­mis­sion mem­bers Thurs­day de­spite ob­jec­tions from neigh­bor­ing res­i­dents.

Plan com­mis­sion­ers’ unan­i­mous rec­om­men­da­tion in sup­port of rezoning the 103-acre par­cel near Ridge and Breen roads from res­i­den­tial to in­dus­trial drew boos and hisses from many of the more than 150 peo­ple at the meet­ing. Many res­i­dents at the meet­ing ex­pressed con­cern that Kansas City­based NorthPoint Devel­op­ment’s project would even­tu­ally lead to the devel­op­ment of its larger, more con­tro­ver­sial, pro­posal for a 2,200 acre­ware­house devel­op­ment.

“This is just a back-door trick to try to get into the hub,” said Gar­ret McGuire, who lives near the pro­posed devel­op­ment.

NorthPoint did not sub­mit spe­cific plans for the prop­erty, but of­fered two con­cep­tual plans. In one plan, build­ings would range in size from 27,000 square feet to 201,500 square feet and only al­low the use of de­liv­ery trucks or box trucks. In an­other plan, three build­ings would range in size from 109,200 square feet to 414,500 square feet.

City coun­cil mem­bers have fi­nal say on NorthPoint’s zon­ing re­quest and are ex­pected to take up the is­sue in­Novem­ber.

NorthPoint also would have to sub­mit a fi­nal site devel­op­ment plan that would be re­viewed by the plan com­mis­sion and city coun­cil.

City of­fi­cials also are ne­go­ti­at­ing a devel­op­ment plan with NorthPoint that would lay out ad­di­tional de­tails, such as the the con­struc­tion of a wa­ter tower on the prop­erty by NorthPoint.

In 2018, El­wood res­i­dents turned out in large num­bers in op­po­si­tion to NorthPoint’s plans to an­nex 675 of 851 acres into El­wood for it’s pro­posed 2,200 acre Com­pass Busi­ness Park. Res­i­dents raised con­cerns about the ad­di­tional truck traf­fic and the im­pact it would have on lo­cal roads, high­ways and the en­vi­ron­ment. In April of 2018, the an­nex­a­tion was dropped af­ter El­wood Vil­lage Pres­i­dent Doug Jenco is­sued a news re­lease stat­ing there was not enough sup­port on the vil­lage board to ap­prove the re­quest.

NorthPoint ap­plied to Will County for ap­proval of its project shortly af­ter El­wood’s ac­tion, but there has been no move­ment on the pro­posal. Shortly af­ter the com­pany sub­mit­ted it’s ap­pli­ca­tion, Will County Board mem­ber Jim Moustis, R- Frank­fort, urged the com­pany to with­draw its ap­pli­ca­tion un­til the com­pany could ad­dress the “se­ri­ous con­cerns raised by lo­cal fam­i­lies.”

Res­i­dents at Thurs­day’s meet­ing raised con­cerns about truck traf­fic, wa­ter qual­ity and noise but many also shared McGuire’ s con­cern about North Point’ s fu­ture plans.

“I’ve heard the ar­gu­ment that it’s just 103 acres and it’s al­ready in Joliet, but the re­al­ity of it is, we all see it as a part of a puz­zle that’s go­ing to lead to 2,000 acres of truck traf­fic and ware­houses,” said Rita Ren­wick, a Joliet resident and mem­ber of the Will County Chap­ter of the Illi­nois Audubon So­ci­ety. “You’re charged with look­ing at the 103 acres, but I think most of us are look­ing be­yond that and the qual­ity of life that we’ll have.”

NorthPoint of­fi­cials would not ad­dress the com­pany’s fu­ture plans for devel­op­ment. Joliet of­fi­cials also de­clined to spec­u­late if the 103 acre par­cel would serve as the start of a con­nec­tion to the larger project.

“The only thing on the ta­ble is the 103 acres,” Joliet Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Direc­tor Ken­dall Jack­son said.

NorthPoint’s pro­posal drew sup­port from union lead­ers who noted the con­struc­tion jobs that would be gen­er­ated by the 103acre devel­op­ment. Sup­port­ers also noted that Will County al­ready is home to the na­tion’s largest in­land port and ad­di­tional ware­house de­vel­op­ments are in­evitable.

“Will County is chang­ing, it’s go­ing to be an eco­nomic pow­er­house,” said Josh Weger, policy direc­tor for In­di­ana, Illi­nois, Iowa Foun­da­tion for Fair Con­tract­ing.

“Some folks might get to­gether and de­lay a project for a while but you can be sure , an­other one is com­ing.”

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