NorthPoint Development has been shopping plans for a 1,300-acre business park around Will County for years – and they may have finally found a willing buyer in the Joliet City Council.
The company plans to build 16.8 million square feet of warehouse, distribution and light manufacturing space on the land, which it wants Joliet to annex even though neighboring communities such as Elwood would be more immediately affected. Elwood’s Village Board rejected the plan in 2018.
Joliet’s City Council opened the door for this proposal late last year when it agreed to annex 103 acres of land at the behest of Kansas City, Missouri-based NorthPoint.
Does Joliet, and perhaps the area, stand to benefit from a development of this scale? Absolutely. It will create jobs, initially during the construction and later for people who work in warehouses and light manufacturing businesses. It would increase property values that would create a corresponding increase in property tax collections, potentially reducing the reliance on local property taxes for things like local schools.
Yet many people are at least skeptical about this plan, if they are no flat-out against it. The opposition is well-organized and passionate, and we have said before that the project is not worth the headache.
If Joliet’s City Council feels otherwise, then we need details.
We have seen no traffic studies. The public needs to know how many more trucks this development will bring to our area, and how they will get in and out of the business park.
Likewise, we need to know what the developer and local transportation agencies would do to make arterial roadways and about a dozen township roads accommodate the increased traffic as it makes its way to and from Interstate 80.
Such a large project will have significant affects on the environment as well as on people who live nearby. The company must be made to account for mitigating environmental impacts and for safeguarding the property values any people living nearby.
The public, and its representatives on the Joliet City Council, need to have this information publicly presented before there’s any vote on this project, even on a pre-annexation agreement.
It’s not enough to point to what Kansas City, Missouri-based NorthPoint has done in Edgerton, Kansas. That’s a town of less than 2,000 people, Joliet is a city of more than 148,000. There’s no comparison.
As this is an annexation request, Joliet has a strong negotiating position when it comes to what it will accept. They should use it. At a minimum, there should be a full accounting of how NorthPoint’s plans will affect the area, what the company and the local, state and federal governments are prepared to do to make the road network support it.
There is strong, organized opposition to NorthPoint’s plans, and it nothing the company says is likely to please everyone. Likewise, we’d be hypocritical to complain about high property taxes and outmigration of people from our state on one hand and reject job-creating potential developments on the other.
But we can’t endorse a project that will be a drag on the quality of life, safety of the roads, and security of property and the environment, either. NorthPoint must provide the city and the public with real details on its plans and commitments, or its proposal should be denied.