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Local News

NorthPoint revives Compass Business Park

Once rejected, Compass Business Park proposal revived, but still faces opposition

NorthPoint Development said Tuesday that it has applied to Will County for zoning needed for its Compass Business Park.

The project was rejected in April by the village of Elwood after stiff community opposition from residents opposed to the truck traffic that could be generated by another industrial park.

“We are moving forward with an alternative plan with the land that we own,” said Scott Burnham, spokesman for NorthPoint. “All the land is either owned or under contract.”

The proposal for unincorporated Will County is 670 acres, smaller than the initial proposal with Elwood.

Burnham said that the new proposal includes land that NorthPoint wanted to annex to Elwood. It does not include the 181 acres already in the village of Elwood that was part of the initial proposal.

The Compass Business Park was envisioned ultimately to be 2,000 acres, including land stretching to the village of Manhattan. But Burnham said the application to Will County only includes the 670 acres that would have been annexed to Elwood under NorthPoint’s original plan.

NorthPoint will seek zoning for warehouses, distribution and light manufacturing along Route 53, the company said in a news release.

The new plan will face renewed opposition, said Stephanie Irvine, a leader in the grass-roots movement against the Compass Business Park.

“They’re still going to have obstacles, and they’re still going to face the same opposition that they would have faced in Elwood,” Irvine said. “I think it’s a testament that they are going to push forward with what they want regardless of what the people who live here want.”

There were rumors that NorthPoint would seek zoning in the county after being rejected by Elwood.

But the actual application on Tuesday came as “a surprise to everybody,” said James Moustis, R-Frankfort, speaker of the county board.

Acknowledging that public meetings on a NorthPoint zoning plan could get emotional, Moustis said, “I think we have an obligation to hear from everybody, and that’s what we’ll do. It will be very public, and it will not be behind closed doors.”

Among the obstacles NorthPoint would face is the need for a super-majority vote of approval from the county board for rezoning if Elwood or adjacent landowners file legal objections.

That super-majority would amount to 20 of 26 votes on the board, Moustis said, adding, “That’s a very tough hill to climb.”

NorthPoint in a news release said the project would “generate new revenue and jobs for the local, regional and state economy.”

“Compass Business Park is an important piece of this region’s economic growth,” NorthPoint Vice President of Development Patrick Robinson said in a written statement. “It will bring thousands of new jobs to the area while meeting the demands of expanding intermodal facilities that serve the online retail boom.”

The NorthPoint news release also included a statement from Doc Gregory, president of the Will & Grundy Counties Building Trades Council, saying, “Compass Business Park is the kind of economic boost this county needs and would create thousands of jobs for working families.”

Construction unions supported the project at Elwood public hearings even as hundreds showed up in opposition.

The previous NorthPoint plan for annexation to Elwood received preliminary approval from the village plan commission. But the Village Board never put the matter on its agenda. Village President Doug Jenco said he had polled village trustees individually and there was insufficient support for the NorthPoint plan.

Will County Board member Don Gould, R-Shorewood, one of two representatives in the sixth district that includes the NorthPoint land, said he would oppose the plan.

“The sentiment of the community – if you went to the [Elwood] hearings, which I did – was overwhelmingly against it,” Gould said.

The other sixth district county board member, Debbie Militello, R-Channahon, said she would wait to see the NorthPoint plan.

“I need to see what they’re going to do,” Militello said. “Did they change anything? I need to see it.”

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