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Joliet commission rejects gas station near airport runway

Speedway gas station on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, in Shorewood, Ill. The convenience store and gas station chain is expected to open a truck stop near the intersection on Jefferson Street and Houbolt Road.
Speedway gas station on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, in Shorewood, Ill. The convenience store and gas station chain is expected to open a truck stop near the intersection on Jefferson Street and Houbolt Road.

The Joliet Plan Commission rejected a proposal Thursday for a new Speedway gas station and truck stop at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Houbolt Road.

Several residents from The Cloister, a gated subdivision on the north end of Houbolt Road, and other nearby subdivisions and entities attended the meeting to express their unanimous opposition to the gas station.

Their main concerns were the possibility of more truck traffic through an already busy intersection, a bike path through the intersection and that the station would be across the street from the Joliet Regional Airport.

Chris Kalischefsky, an architect speaking on Speedway’s behalf, argued in front of the commission members that the gas station would have minimal impact on the intersection and that only about three trucks an hour would come through the station at peak hours in the early morning and afternoon.

Joe Mikuska, whose house in The Cloister would have been next to the gas station, responded to that claim during the public comments section.

“I’m sure Speedway’s not making this big investment to service one truck per hour,” Mikuska said. “If they can get 10 or 20 trucks per hour, I think they would really be happy with that.”

Kalischefsky, as well as civil engineering and traffic experts, also argued that the station would produce 15 to 20 permanent jobs and $190,000 in annual tax revenue for the city.

They also said the gas station wouldn’t actually be a “true” truck stop, as it would not have any parking spaces for trucks. They said it made sense to put a gas station there because it was an “underserved” area and would mostly pull from traffic already driving through the intersection.

Still, the commission voted unanimously to deny the plan.

Joliet Regional Airport manager Jennifer McFarland had voiced concerns about the gas station’s location across the street from the airport.

Mikuska said that he was relieved the commission rejected the proposal.

“I think it’s a good idea for the safety of the people who go through that intersection,” he said.

Earlier that afternoon, the city’s zoning board of appeals was also scheduled to hold a public hearing about smaller matters regarding the station, but the members ultimately tabled the issues. Board chairman Ed Hennessy complained during the meeting that the members couldn’t vote on the variations unless the plan commission and the City Council approved the gas station.

The issues were rendered moot once the commission voted to reject the gas station.

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