Judge denies motion to stop Joliet City Council’s pending vote on NorthPoint plan

Houbolt Road bridge partnership filed lawsuit this week to stop NorthPoint

Construction activity at the future Houbolt Road bridge in Joliet seen on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.

A Will County judge on Friday denied an emergency motion that would have slowed down NorthPoint Development’s plans to start construction.

The ruling means the Joliet City Council will vote as planned Tuesday on plats that need to be approved before NorthPoint begins construction for its industrial park.

The joint venture partnership building the Houbolt Road toll bridge sought the order as part of a lawsuit that contends the NorthPoint plan violates a memorandum of understanding, also referred to as an MOU, reached before construction of the bridge started.

Judge John Pavich in his ruling did not comment on whether the NorthPoint plan is at odds with the MOU. Pavich, however, said he lacked the authority to step in and stop the City Council from voting.

Pavich quoted previous cases restraining courts from taking action to stop legislative bodies from voting.

“The court also concludes that there exists no other risk of imminent or irreparable harm that may be prevented only by the granting of the emergency TRO (temporary restraining order),” Pavich wrote.

Houbolt Road Extension Joint Venture (HRE), the partnership building the bridge, asked Pavich to issue an emergency order to stop the city from issuing building permits or doing design work on the project if he found he did not have the authority to stop the council from voting.

HRE, which includes CenterPoint Properties, is seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the NorthPoint project from moving forward. The lawsuit for the preliminary injunction was filed Tuesday, and HRE sought the emergency order while hearings on the lawsuit were pending.

CenterPoint Properties owns the CenterPoint Intermodal Center, which also is developing warehouses in the same area where NorthPoint wants to build.

A status date of the lawsuit is set for May 20, but a hearing date has not been set.

The City Council votes Tuesday on plats for NorthPoint in an area west of Route 53 and south fo Millsdale Road. NorthPoint has said it hopes to begin construction in the summer.

HRE attorney John Spesia argued during a hearing on Thursday that the NorthPoint plans include new roads that are prohibited in the MOU and potentially threaten the financial prospects for the toll bridge.

Spesia said both the pending plats and a previous annexation agreement between NorthPoint and the city of Joliet violated the MOU. He said emergency action was needed before the project went too far.

“They’re trying to get so many people involved in this that it can’t be undone,” Spesia said in court. “They’re trying to make it so you can’t unring the bell.”

Deputy City Attorney Chris Regis argued that the MOU was not a binding contract and that the NorthPoint project would drive more trucks to the Houbolt Road bridge.

Noting the city will get a percentage of the Houbolt Road bridge tolls, Regis said, “We the city of Joliet have a financial interest in the success of that toll bridge.”