Joliet pot farm plan under revision

City officials say Alessios will bring revised proposal to City Council in June

Plans for a proposed cannabis facility off Manhattan Road will be revised before being brought to the Joliet City Council for a vote in June, a city official said.

The controversial indoor growing facility was to go to the council for a vote on Tuesday after getting negative reviews from both the Zoning Board of Appeals and Plan Commission.

Lawyer Carla Alessio-Policandriotes speaks to the Joliet zoning board members. The Alessio family seeks approval for a cannabis cultivation facility next to a Sugar Creek subdivision. Thursday, April 21, 2022, in Joliet.

But the Alessio family, which owns the land where the facility would be built, has asked that the matter be tabled until the council meeting on June 7 because their attorney will be out of town, said Eva-Marie Tropper, director of community development for the city.

City staff is recommending to the council that the matter be tabled.

Tropper also said the Alessios plan to change the site plan for the project.

Some changes are needed because the zoning board turned down a request for a variance on the city requirement that buildings used for cannabis operations be at least 250 feet away from residential property.

“In order for the project to move forward, the petitioner has to submit a site plan that meets the setback of 250 feet,” Tropper said.

The zoning board had the final say on the cannabis setback.

But the City Council will have the final vote on rezoning and a special use permit. If the council gives the OK, the cannabis facility could be built by moving the building farther away from the nearest houses.

The project faces opposition from residents in the area, including the Sugar Creek subdivision located across Sugar Creek from the proposed site. The location at Manhattan Road (Route 52) and Alessio Drive is on the north end of an industrial park that includes the Alessio & Sons construction business.

The Alessios already did work on the site last year for what they said was a continuation of use of the land for storage of construction equipment. No building was put up, but land was excavated, fill was added and a fence was set up.

No building permits were ever issued for the work, city officials said.

Questions raised about the work by nearby residents led to the discovery that it was done without permits. But the city did not take any action until a stop-work order was issued last month a week before the zoning board and Plan Commission votes on the cannabis farm.

Neighbors continue to raise questions about the work done last year, said Megan Cooper, who has spoken against the cannabis project.

She said residents have filed complaints with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“Residents are calling in because they’re worried,” Cooper said. “There was nobody overseeing the project to guarantee whether anything was going into the creek.”

Carla Alessio Policandriotis, the attorney for the project, did not return a call seeking comment.