February 28, 2024
Local News

Second lawsuit filed to block NorthPoint plan in Joliet

The Stop NorthPoint group filed a lawsuit Wednesday aimed at preventing NorthPoint Development from building its proposed industrial park in Joliet.

The lawsuit comes a little more than a week after a Will County judge blocked Joliet from proceeding with annexations for the project while hearing a separate lawsuit from the village of Elwood.

The Stop NorthPoint group is seeking a judgment that would declare the pre-annexation agreement for the project null and void, prevent any annexations, and block NorthPoint from construction.

The lawsuit filed in Will County Circuit Court contends that NorthPoint filed annexation petitions with forged signatures and points to campaign contributions made by the developers to two Joliet City Council members.

Like the village of Elwood in its lawsuit, Stop NorthPoint also alleges that public hearings on the pre-annexation agreement were conducted improperly.

The pre-annexation agreement set terms obligating Joliet to annex 1,263 acres that NorthPoint plans to use for its Compass Global Logistics Hub.

Both NorthPoint and the city of Joliet are defendants in the lawsuit.

Joliet Assistant City Attorney Chris Regis said he had not seen the lawsuit and added, "I can't talk about pending litigation."

NorthPoint did not respond to a request for comment.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Stop NorthPoint and 17 individuals associated with the group.

Much of the lawsuit repeats arguments made by opponents who contended that the project will overload the region with truck traffic before the Joliet City Council approved the plan.

It also alleges that $22,764 in campaign contributions to Councilman Larry Hug from the Chicago Land Operators Joint Labor-Management PAC is tied to a $23,200 contribution NorthPoint made to the PAC in April 2019.

Hug received $17,000 from the PAC since the NorthPoint contribution during his unsuccessful campaign for state senate. Other contributions from the PAC date back to November 2017.

Hug campaign contributions from the Operating Engineers union, which is associated with the PAC, go back to 2014.

He said he could not comment on allegations in the lawsuit because it had not yet been delivered to the city and he had not seen it.

"It's really unprofessional and a shame that the person they're trying to make false allegations against doesn't see it before the media does," Hug said.

Hug was a yes vote in the City Council's 6-3 approval of the pre-annexation agreement in April.

So was Councilwoman Sherri Reardon, who received a $1,000 contribution from NorthPoint in her campaign for City Council in 2019.

The lawsuit points to both contributions to Reardon and Hug without alleging any illegality.

Reardon did not return a call for comment.

The lawsuit also contends that NorthPoint did not comply with terms of the pre-annexation agreement requiring the developer to provide evidence in 90 days that it had acquired a majority of the property designated for annexation.

Stop NorthPoint argues the developer submitted annexation petitions one day late on July 17 and document acquisition for only 273 acres.

The lawsuit also contends that the notary's signature on annexation petitions was forged, an issue that had been raised previously.

Interim City Manager Jim Hock said at the time that a notary was not required by the city, and the authenticity of the signature was irrelevant to the annexations. He also described deadlines set in the pre-annexation agreement as "self-imposed" and not mandatory for annexations to continue.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News