Nothing about NorthPoint is easy, and that was the case again this week with the annexation of 55 more acres for the massive warehouse project.
NorthPoint Development wants to develop more than 1,200 acres for warehouses, a plan fiercely opposed by residents who live closest to the proposed development called the Third Coast Intermodal Hub.
The Joliet City Council on Tuesday, in a 5-4 vote that showed some defections from NorthPoint support, approved the 55-acre annexation. NorthPoint needed the annexation to establish contiguity with the city, a legal requirement, before it can develop more than 900 acres of land included in its project.
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, a NorthPoint supporter, cast the deciding vote in his last meeting as mayor.
But opponents may look to Mayor-Elect Terry D’Arcy and a City Council changed by the April 4 election and potentially less sympathetic to NorthPoint to upend the 55-acre annexation.
“I believe it is likely to be challenged in a court of law,” said Jackson Township Assessor Delilah LeGrett, a leader in the Just Say No to NorthPoint group and a plaintiff in a lawsuit aimed at blocking the project. “Maybe we look to the new council about this and see if they would do something as well.”
LeGrett and others contended that the city violated the terms of its annexation agreement with NorthPoint by not first bringing the annexation to a public hearing before the city’s Plan Commission, which would have given more notice before the council voted on Tuesday.
Deputy City Attorney Chris Regis said there was no obligation to take the matter to the Plan Commission because the annexation did not include a request for rezoning.
“Zoning is required to have a public hearing before the Plan Commission,” Regis said. “Annexation is not.”
The annexation for the land previously zoned by Will County for agriculture was approved without any request for rezoning. But Regis said a rezoning could go to the Plan Commission for a vote in May.
Meanwhile, NorthPoint appears to be navigating a new path to meet the legal requirement for contiguity after failing to reach an agreement it had hoped to reach on a parcel of land owned by the Federal Aviation Administration.
It’s another legal stumbling block likely to be raised in court, cases aimed at stopping the project and was brought up at City Council meetings this week.
Two City Council members previously in favor of the NorthPoint project – Sherri Reardon and Pat Mudron – voted against the 55-acre annexation on Tuesday, saying they, too, believed the city was skirting the previous annexation agreement.
“Now we are going against what we told the public we would do,” Mudron said.