NorthPoint makes a very important argument on behalf of its Compass Business Park, the massive industrial project that goes to the Joliet Plan Commission for review on Monday.
Compass actually would keep trucks off of local roads by giving future warehouses and manufacturers direct access to the intermodal yards in Joliet and Elwood in the "closed loop" system that NorthPoint been promoting since 2017.
So they say.
Are they right?
More importantly, has this concept been vetted enough to know if they're right?
Will the Joliet Plan Commission really know whether NorthPoint is right when they take a vote Monday on a recommendation – assuming they do take a vote?
Will the Joliet City Council know if it goes ahead and votes on the project as tentatively scheduled on March 17?
It's interesting that the Plan Commission and City Council have approved several rezonings for future warehouses that would, according to the NorthPoint point of view, create problems that Compass Business Park could solve.
NorthPoint Director of Development Tom George at an open house meeting on Wednesday pointed to warehouse plans along Route 53 as just the kind of development that puts trucks on local roads because they don't have direct access to the intermodals.
"That's the traffic that we're trying to capture and keep inside the park so it's directly connected to the intermodal," George told people at the meeting. "That's the traffic that we want to have on dedicated truck roads that stay directly connected inside the park."
Residents at the meeting were skeptical, pointing out that trucks will have places to go besides the warehouses and intermodal yards.
But if NorthPoint is right, it suggests better planning could have avoided a lot of the traffic problems that exist today.
Actually, Joliet had done some planning that advised against many of the warehouse developments that have been approved in the last few years. But, developers have argued that the city planning is obsolete. The Plan Commission and City Council have gone along with that argument and approved the warehouse zoning contrary to the city's Southside Plan.
Joliet is just starting work on a new comprehensive plan for the entire city and has joined Will County on a joint planning project for the area south of the city. Both plans would take in the area NorthPoint wants to develop and could very well show whether Compass Business Park is a good idea.
Right now, it doesn't look like Joliet is waiting for that planning to be done.
Those plans could become obsolete before they're finished.