NorthPoint Development said it will build “a first-class park” in Joliet if it gets industrial zoning, a claim that did not appear to satisfy opponents at a City Council workshop meeting Monday.
NorthPoint grabbed most of the attention on Monday as the council chambers filled up with people on both sides – residents against it and building trades workers for it.
“It’s a horrible thought that you would even do this,” said Eric Gorder, who called the plan “short-sighted” for planning warehouses and other industrial uses without roads in place needed for truck traffic.
Several opponents referred to the 103-acre project as “Compass Business Park North,” a reference to the 2,200-acre NorthPoint plan that was turned down in Elwood.
They believe NorthPoint will revive the plan in Joliet if it can get industrial zoning.
“It’s clear that this is merely an avenue for them to get a foothold to build the entire business park,” Stephanie Irvine said.
Tom George, director of development for NorthPoint, described plans for a neighbor-friendly business park that would have attractive buildings, a community committee to deal with development issues and a parking lot for a public that will want to visit the park because of its natural attractions.
The site includes a section of Jackson Creek.
“I think parks in the past have focused on the park, taxes and jobs, and that’s great,” George said. “But we want to go the next step.”
George said NorthPoint even plans a career center to help local residents get jobs.
At 103 acres, the NorthPoint site is not a major development.
But the developer’s bigger plans in the area have turned the Joliet plan into a showdown issue.
Doc Gregory, president of Will & Grundy Building Trades, was one of two union representatives speaking in favor of NorthPoint.
“There are a lot of building trade unions in the audience,” Gregory said. “Our out-of-work list is long. We need the work.”
Unlike NorthPoint, the prospect of Joliet allowing sales of recreational marijuana has not attracted much public comment.
Council member Bettye Gavin said she would like to see Joliet limit the number of marijuana dispensaries.
“I would suggest a cap – a hard cap, no more than three, two or three,” Gavin said. “I would not want it to saturate our town.”