It’s NorthPoint time again in Joliet

Plan Commission considers NorthPoint plan Thursday, City Council to vote in December

The new NorthPoint plan goes to the Joliet Plan Commission this week with the developer proposing a project much bigger and with more bridges than what the city approved nearly a year ago.

NorthPoint after buying more land is now proposing a 2,179-acre project with a Route 53 bridge planned for the vicinity of Breen Road. The plan has grown by 921 acres from what the city approved in December 2020, and a new annexation agreement is being written for the revised layout.

The Plan Commission will take up the controversial NorthPoint project again when it meets at 4 p.m. Thursday in City Hall.

Opponents to the NorthPoint's proposed Compass Business Park lift signs at the Joliet Plan Commission meeting on Monday.

The revised proposal comes while NorthPoint’s plan for the Compass Global Logistics Hub remains stalled in court battles that include opposition from the village of Elwood to the developer’s initial plan to build the Route 53 bridge at Walter Strawn Road in Elwood.

Joliet has made the bridge a condition for issuing any building permits for the future industrial park. The bridge requirement is aimed at assuring the closed-loop design that NorthPoint promises will limit the number of trucks going onto Route 53 and local roads.

How binding a condition it will be under the new agreement is one thing already being examined by opponents of the project.

The proposed Compass Business Park would include a gateway bridge over Route 53, pictured in this screen capture from a YouTube 3D video made by NorthPoint Development.

“One thing to note is that the previous annexation agreement from last year is very specific about not issuing building permits until the bridge is secured,” said John Kieken with Stop NorthPoint, a citizens’ group that is trying to stop the project in court.

But the new proposal would allow NorthPoint to begin construction on land it has acquired west of Route 53 before building the bridge, according to the city staff report to the Plan Commission. Kieken noted that amounts to more than 500 acres.

“That’s a pretty substantial foot in the door that they will get,” he said.

Ron Adamski (left) and John Kieken of Stop NorthPoint watch the Joliet Zoning Board of Appeals hearing from a monitor on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, at Joliet City Hall in Joliet

The staff report also indicates a change in the conditions for the bridge.

The agreement approved a year ago required that the bridge be under construction before the city issued any permits for industrial buildings.

Now it appears that NorthPoint will be required to “post a bond or other financial instrument with the city sufficient to insure the construction of the Route 53 bridge,” according to the staff report.

Assistant City Attorney Chris Regis said the final language for the annexation agreement, which would govern the conditions for the bridge, is not completed and could change before it goes to the City Council for a vote in December.

“The annexation agreement is really not in final form right now,” Regis said Tuesday.

Assistant City Attorney Chris Regis talks to the committee members regarding the Police Department Citizen Advisory Board proposal at the Council Chambers in Joliet City Hall. Monday Nov. 8, 2021.

The staff report outlines two to three other bridges NorthPoint would build to ensure the closed-loop network.

• The Elwood bridge at Walter Strawn Road would remain an option but would not be required.

• A railroad bridge over the Union Pacific line south of Millsdale Road would be built “to provide safe and restricted access for tractor-trailer traffic,” according to the report.

• And a Manhattan Road bridge would be built to provide access to the industrial park “without allowing any use of Manhattan Road by tractor-trailers,” the report states.