The road ahead for the controversial NorthPoint plan may be a long and winding one.
Will County officials this week sent a 15-point letter to the developer requesting more information before an application seeking zoning for the proposed Compass Business Park is deemed complete.
The application is the first step in the county process that will at least include public hearings before the plan commission and County Board.
The county response to NorthPoint’s application includes instructions that the developer contact Jackson Township, Elwood, Manhattan and Joliet, since each of the local governments may want to conduct public hearings on the proposed rezoning of 670 acres.
In an email, Patrick Robinson, vice president of development for NorthPoint, said that the information sought by the county “should be relatively easy to address, and we should have responses to their questions shortly.”
Requesting more information on a zoning application is not unusual, said Brian Radner, development review division director for the Will County Land Use Department. However, Radner acknowledged this will not be the typical zoning process.
“I’m aware of the interest in this topic,” Radner said. “I’m aware of the number of meetings Elwood had and how many people showed up.”
County officials are contemplating special meetings in light of the hundreds of people who showed up, most of them in opposition, when the village of Elwood considered an annexation of the same land now up for rezoning. They also expect to move the NorthPoint hearings to bigger venues than the County Board room where zoning cases normally are heard.
The Land Use Department this week created a “NorthPoint/Compass Business Park” section on the public portal with online access to documents filed with the county. NorthPoint’s 272-page zoning application is there, as is the department’s two-page response.
“We are going to be very transparent,” Radner said. “We are not going to hide anything. There’s not going to be a surprise meeting where it suddenly appears on an agenda.”
No meetings are scheduled yet.
The zoning request first would go to the Will County Planning and Zoning Commission, which will hold a public hearing on the application. The commission is a recommending body like the Elwood Planning and Zoning Commission, which recommended approval of the NorthPoint annexation before the Village Board decided it would not even consider the matter.
The plan would next be considered by the County Board Land Use & Development Committee, which would make a nonbinding recommendation.
Finally, the County Board would hold a public hearing and vote on the NorthPoint plan.
When all that happens could depend on whether local municipalities and Jackson Township hold public hearings on the project.
The boundaries of the NorthPoint plan lie within a mile and a half of Elwood, Manhattan and Joliet, giving all three municipalities a right to require public hearings.
Manhattan Village Administrator Kevin Sing said officials will review the application before deciding on a public hearing. Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said city officials have not discussed the matter.
If any one of those municipalities decide to file a legal objection, the rezoning would need a supermajority of 20 of 26 votes to be approved by the County Board.
Elwood Mayor Doug Jenco said in a text he believes Elwood would file a legal objection, but added the Village Board has yet to address the question.
Jackson Township is reviewing its authority on the matter, but it appears that state law does not authorize townships to file legal objections on county zoning matters in counties with populations of 600,000 or more, Jackson Township Supervisor Diane Sewing said.
Sewing said Jackson Township would want to hold a public hearing on the NorthPoint plan.
“We definitely would like it for the community’s sake,” Sewing said. “I would say the feel for the community is 99 percent do not want it.”
Robinson in the email said NorthPoint “would welcome the opportunity to present the plan to Jackson Township.”