Opponents boo vote to advance NorthPoint development
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.”