JOLIET – The Joliet City Council voted, 5-3, for a plan to add future warehousing despite repeated pleas by neighbors and public officials to reject the proposal.
Residents and Jackson Township officials said adding more warehousing would worsen conditions for residents, especially by bringing more semitrailer traffic to Route 53.
The 138.5 acres now annexed to Joliet under industrial zoning are at the southwest corner of Route 53 and Breen Road.
The city’s own planning staff recommended the council reject the plan.
Council members who voted for the annexation labeled the city plan for the area obsolete, siding with arguments presented by representatives for the landowner.
Council member Terry Morris, whose council district includes the area, said, “Even before these warehouses are built, there’s already a problem that needs to be addressed.”
But Morris then voted in favor of the warehouse plan, saying, “The comprehensive plan is somewhat out of date.”
Also voting for the plan were John Gerl, Larry Hug, Jan Quillman and Bettye Gavin.
Voting no were Michael Turk, Don Dickinson and Pat Mudron.
Angry residents then walked out of the meeting with one shouting at the council calling them “a disgrace” and “snakes.”
Most of the residents live in unincorporated Jackson Township and do not vote for the City Council. But many of them also live in the Cedar Creek subdivision in Joliet.
Jerry Austin, a Joliet police officer who lives in the Cedar Creek area, urged the council to vote against the plan, saying the area has changed greatly since he moved there 10 years ago and pointed to problems related to trucks.
“The safety is off the charts,” Austin said. “They go through red lights. They cut people off.”
Nancy Bartels, president of the Noel Estates Homeowners Association in unincorporated Jackson Township, said the argument that the 138.5 acres can no longer be developed for homes is not true.
“In the last year and a half, we’ve probably had 10 new people in houses that they purchased,” Bartels said. “Our [property] value has appreciated.”
Attorney Michael Hansen, representing the Smith family trust that owns the property, said residential development of the site would add more traffic to Route 53 than warehouses. He said the warehouse plan would add 120 trucks a day, while full residential development of the property would add 3,500 vehicles a day.
Hansen also said the warehouse plan would add jobs and tax revenue.
“A lot of jobs are at stake here,” Hansen said. “Local union construction jobs are an example.”