July 18, 2024
Local News

Neighboring communities try again to stop NorthPoint plan in Joliet

Joliet's neighbors made another attempt Tuesday to persuade city officials to turn against the NorthPoint plan for at least 1,360-acres of warehouse and industrial development.

Representatives from Elwood and Jackson Township were the first to speak at a public hearing in which about 100 people are expected to comment over the course of at least two days before the Joliet City Council votes on the annexation plan.

The hearing will resume at 4 p.m. Wednesday after more than two hours of comments from 15 people on Tuesday.

"This decision cannot be made with just Joliet in mind," Jackson Township Clerk told the City Council. "You have a responsibility to the area and not just Joliet."

NorthPoint's proposed Compass Global Logistics Hub stretches south of Joliet into Jackson Township and Elwood.

Elwood Mayor Doug Jenco said Joliet approval would push the NorthPoint development and the trucks it would produce into his village at the rate of 5,000 trucks a day.

"I'm not here to tell you guys how to run your city. But I don't want you to put any roads through Elwood," Jenco said.

Joliet Mayor Bob O'Dekirk in turn pointed to the impact of truck traffic already being generated by the BNSF Railway intermodal in Elwood on the surrounding area as it expands operations.

"Without NorthPoint those trucks aren't going away. They're still coming," O'Dekirk said. "I think the estimate is 5 million more trucks a year coming out of that yard into our area."

Both Elwood and Joliet have intermodal yards surrounded by warehouses and industrial facilities developed by CenterPoint Properties since 2000 in an interconnected industrial park crossing the borders of both towns.

NorthPoint argues that its project would reduce truck traffic on Route 53 and local roads by creating a "closed-loop" system keeping trucks inside its industrial park.

The closed loop depends on a bridge that NorthPoint wants to build over Route 53 in Elwood. Elwood is in court trying to stop the bridge.

NorthPoint originally wanted to annex land into Elwood for the project but was turned down in 2018.

A year ago, NorthPoint brought the project to Joliet after the expiration of a boundary agreement that would have blocked Joliet from annexing the land.

"If Joliet doesn't do it, no one will," Jackson Township Trustee Matt Robbins told the City Council as he listed towns that he said either won't or can't annex land to make the project possible.

"Elwood doesn't want it. Manhattan doesn't want it," Robbins said. "Joliet, you hold all the cards to this. You can stop it by saying no."

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News