Joliet seeks compromise on truck travel along Rowell Avenue

Vote on plan for 39-acre industrial project stalled

The city of Joliet and a developer are trying to work out a compromise plan for a controversial project that would add trucks to Rowell Avenue.

Residents and a representative from Laraway School, which was relocated to Rowell to get away from truck traffic on Laraway Road, objected to the project at City Council meetings this week.

The proposed 39-acre project would put two industrial buildings at the corner of Rowell and Larway. The plan includes truck access to Rowell, which the city approved for the site in 2004.

But Mayor Terry D’Arcy and council members said the situation in the city has changed to the point that they wanted some alternative to avoid trucks going into the residential section of Rowell.

“We’re tied to a knot that was knotted in 2004,” D’Arcy said at the council meeting Tuesday. “I see a lot of problems with this.”

Mayor Terry D’Arcy sits in the Joliet City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 18th, 2023.

The project is being designed to send trucks south to Laraway and away from the residential portion of Rowell. But D’Arcy, council members and residents said they expect errant trucks to head up Rowell anyway once the project is built.

Developer Cabot Properties agreed to work with the city to develop a turnaround area so trucks heading north on Rowell could turn back before getting into the residential area.

“It is really a problem in that area.”

—  Suzanna Ibarra, Joliet city council member

“We are absolutely open to talking with the city about a solution,” Dan Uebelhor, vice president of development and construction with Cabot, said at the Tuesday meeting.

Uebelhor said Cabot will dedicate what land is needed from the site to create the turnaround. But, he said, it won’t be enough.

Cabot representatives and city staff agreed that Ikea, which has a neighboring warehouse, will need to provide some of its adjacent land to make the turnaround work.

The council and Cabot agreed to put of a vote on the plan until Ikea could be contacted and plans for a turnaround could be developed, which they hoped to have accomplished before the next council meeting on Oct. 3.

Cabot needs city approval for resubdivision of the property, which is now set up to allow for a 768,000-square-foot building. Cabot would not need council approval to go ahead with the existing plan, which Uebelhor said would create twice the amount of truck traffic as the newly proposed plan for two smaller industrial buildings totaling 650,000 square feet.

“It sounds like the developer really wants to do the right thing,” said council member Suzanna Ibarra, whose District 5 includes the site.

But Ibarra added that she has visited with residents along Rowell as trucks came up the street and through the neighborhood, sometimes knocking off limbs from trees.

“It is really a problem in that area,” she said.