The new and bigger NorthPoint plan was approved Thursday by the Joliet Plan Commission, although without the unanimous support the previous version received.
The commission voted 6-2 to recommend approval to the City Council, which is scheduled to vote Dec. 21 on the now nearly 2,300-acre Compass Global Logistics Hub with a new plan for a Route 53 bridge in the area of Breen Road.
As in past meetings on the proposed industrial park, there was strong public opposition with 19 of 20 speakers against it.
The hearing renewed the long-running battle over the project, which the Plan Commission first reviewed in February 2020 when it was planned for 1,260 acres.
NorthPoint Development again presented its project as a plan that will reduce traffic congestion, provide new economic opportunity, and protect neighbors and the environment.
Potential neighbors remain unpersuaded and contended the future Compass Global Logistics Hub will pour trucks onto their roads, pollute their air, and possibly drain the water supply.
“Let them come up with a more comprehensive plan than this piecemeal that will decimate the entire area,” said Theresa Papesh of Elwood, calling the NorthPoint plan “this monstrosity.”
Tom George, director of development with NorthPoint, said the project has been presented at 10 neighborhood meetings and includes “probably the most vetted traffic program we’ve ever worked on.”
NorthPoint contends its plan provides for a more organized handling of the growing numbers of shipments moving through the intermodals in Joliet and Elwood than continued piecemeal development along Route 53.
“We want to create a park that is a critical part of the supply chain but at the same time does not add traffic to Route 53,” George said.
NorthPoint argues that its closed-loop plan for Compass Global Logistics Hub is an answer to area truck congestion because it will provide direct routes inside the industrial park between warehouses and the intermodal yards.
But residents opposed to the project remain suspicious of the closed-loop promise.
“The total amount of stuff that moves in the closed loop has to leave eventually or everything piles up in Compass business park,” Christina Sammet of Jackson Township said.
Sammet questioned whether a traffic study for the new plan has been done.
Tim Sjogren, a transportation engineer with Kimley-Horn working with NorthPoint on the project, said a previous traffic study is being updated.
“We are developing an update to that study to reflect the current proposal,” Sjogren said.
Sjogren told Sammet that he did not know if the updated traffic study will be ready by the time the NorthPoint plan goes to the City Council for a final vote.
Fredrick Moore, the one member of the Plan Commission to comment on his vote, cited the incomplete traffic study as one reason for his no vote.
Moore, who voted for the previous NorthPoint plan and said he still supports the project, also said the requirement that the Route 53 bridge be built before building permits are issued now seems to be “up in the air.”
The Route 53 bridge is key to NorthPoint’s closed-loop concept.