Lawsuit seeks to end NorthPoint plan for Joliet

NorthPoint opponents hope to persuade a court what it couldn't convince the Joliet City Council: that the proposed industrial park poses a threat to the community.

A lawsuit filed by the Stop NorthPoint group this week is aimed at stopping the Compass Global Logistics Hub from ever being built.

"The complaint is about the safety, health and welfare of the citizens of Joliet, the surrounding municipalities, and the people of Will County," attorney Robert Fioretti said at a news conference on Thursday.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday repeats many of the arguments made against the project before the City Council approved a pre-annexation agreement in April, paving the way for 1,260 acres of warehouse and industrial development until one court intervened..

The village of Elwood was successful last week in getting a court injunction to block annexations until a decision is made on its case seeking an order to re-do the approval process that led to the pre-annexation agreement.

The Stop NorthPoint lawsuit looks for a court to side with arguments that the project would add unbearable truck traffic, pollution and other problems to the area.

"Judges make rulings based on public and private nuisances and whether the hearings were legal," Fioretti said.

The lawsuit also contends public hearings in Joliet for the project were illegal.

Stop NorthPoint will try to get a ruling that the NorthPoint project poses a nuisance to the public and private landowners before the first shovelful of dirt is turned for building the first warehouse.

If such a case is heard, it's likely to replay the debate between opponents and NorthPoint, which argues its development is the best way to prepare for an inevitable influx of truck traffic coming to the intermodal yards doing a booming business in Joliet and Elwood.

Fioretti estimated the lawsuit could take a year to 18 months to be resolved, a timetable likely to be challenged by the city and NorthPoint since they are both trying to start annexations for the project.

Stop NorthPoint spokeswoman Erin Gallagher said the lawsuit seeks to "permanently halt" the NorthPoint project, pointing to the impact on surrounding residents, schools and the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood.

The NorthPoint project would extend into Elwood and reach close to Manhattan.

"We're standing here to support Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery," Gallagher said. "We're here to support agriculture and a rural way of life."