Mayor Terry D’Arcy and the councilwoman for the south side of Joliet may get in the way of NorthPoint Development’s latest industrial proposal.
NorthPoint goes to the City Council on Tuesday for approval of a 17-acre annexation with zoning and plat approvals for a cold-storage warehouse facility the developer wants to build.
The project would be the latest building in an area west of Route 53 and along Millsdale Road where NorthPoint has started its Third Coast Intermodal Hub, which could stretch over 2,000 acres when fully built. The NorthPoint plan has faced intense residential opposition but consistent approvals from the City Council.
But D’Arcy and Councilwoman Suzanna Ibarra, both of whom were elected in May, at a council workshop meeting on Monday questioned the latest NorthPoint proposal and past accommodations the city has made for the developer.
D’Arcy pointed to a temporary arrangement to waive a weight limit on Millsdale Road for trucks heading west into the CenterPoint Intermodal Center, while lawsuits are pending that involve the city, NorthPoint and rival developer CenterPoint Properties.
“I need to have my arms around this very well,” D’Arcy said at one point, describing current arrangements between the city and NorthPoint as “temporary indefinite. I don’t have a definition for that.”
“I’m struggling with all this,” he added, not saying how he would vote on the matter but repeatedly making clear he did not like the situation. “I’m not comfortable with this development.”
Ibarra also pointed to the pending lawsuits and sided with the residential argument against more NorthPoint development.
“The effect is going to be all these trucks on the road,” she said.
D’Arcy and Ibarra were the only members of the nine-member council to speak on the matter at the workshop meeting. So, it’s not clear whether their comments would sway a majority.
NorthPoint attorney Thomas Osterberger argued that the pending lawsuits should not impede progress on the industrial development.
“For an objector, it’s easy to say, ‘There’s litigation. Everybody stop,’” Osterberger said.
Osterberger suggested NorthPoint could move ahead with the cold-storage project on land it has now and with plats previously approved by the city.
Even so, objector Marge Cepon did point to the litigation and weight restrictions on Millsdale Road to argue that the council should reject the NorthPoint plant.
“There are too many unknowns in this,” Cepon said.
Unlike past council meetings on NorthPoint issues that drew dozens of opponents, only Cepon and area resident Michelle Peterson spoke against the developer on Monday. Peterson said area residents oppose the overall NorthPoint plan because of the potential impact on quality of life.
Resident Lee Carmichael asked the council to vote for the NorthPoint plan. But Carmichael has a deal to sell his land to NorthPoint for part of the annexation and said he wants to move away from the development.
“Now, all I see is my backyard is lit up, and they aren’t even close to us yet,” Carmichael told the council. “We are going to move out further into the country to Wilmington.”