ELWOOD – Hundreds flocked to a meeting of the Elwood Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday night, with organizers having to find additional seating and space so the proceedings could carry on.
About 200 waited outside. Organizers had seating for 600 and added seats for 100 more.
If the public had been turned away, officials would have had to cancel the meeting to avoid violating the Open Meetings Act.
The Elwood Planning and Zoning meeting was called to have a dialogue with the developer of NorthPoint’s Compass Business Park.
Compass Business Park is planned to be an industrial park, where it will serve as a warehouse, distribution and light manufacturing development, that will be meant to keep trucks off local roads.
This plan by NorthPoint has received backlash from the Elwood and nearby Manhattan area residents. NorthPoint has explained that this project will benefit both communities economically.
NorthPoint promises that the Compass Business Park project will have no financial risks to the village of Elwood or the neighboring village of Manhattan. NorthPoint also estimates that this project will bring about $170 million worth of revenue to village and school taxing bodies.
NorthPoint is requesting that the village of Elwood rezone 851 acres of land, 176 of which are in Elwood. NorthPoint also wants Elwood to annex 675 acres of that land for the project.
Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Greg Hickey said that he understands the community’s concerns with this project, but he wants to hear what NorthPoint and the other various groups have to say about the project, during the public hearing. “As a zoning and planning commissioner, it’s my job to be open-minded and make the best decision that I can,” Hickey said.
Hickey also explained that he’s unsure whether Will County will have any more trucks in the future.
The residents of the Elwood community were skeptical of what the representatives of NorthPoint said at the meeting. Elwood resident Michael Busby wasn’t convinced by NorthPoint’s promises at the meeting. Busby was concerned about the impact that the truck traffic would have on the children in the area.
“There’s so many semis right now, and I think it’s gonna accumulate more, and it’s gonna hurt our kids in the future, especially driving down the roads,” Busby said.
The representatives from NorthPoint stated that they have been transparent with the process of developing the Compass Business Park plan, with residents.
According to remarks by NorthPoint’s Vice President of Development Patrick Robinson, NorthPoint has made hundreds of calls to neighbors and concerned residents about this project. Robinson also stated that there will be a “closed loop” to keep trucks off Route 53, keeping them out of residential neighborhoods.