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Local News

NorthPoint opponents aim to push for moratorium on warehouse development

Opponents of the Joliet NorthPoint project said they want to push elected officials to implement a moratorium on warehouse development.

Even though the Joliet City Council approved the project last month, the coalition of activists and groups said they want to keep up the pressure so their concerns are addressed.

Stephanie Irvine, a leader in the Just Say No to NorthPoint group, said she thought a moratorium was needed so Joliet officials could properly study the impacts of further warehouse development.

She said the Joliet City Council should wait for the completion of studies like the one by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, which is examining truck routing and land use practices in Will County. The county government is also conducting a study on infrastructure needs at the intermodals.

Irvine said that kind of information should be taken into consideration when approving more developments.

"We feel like people aren’t making educated, knowledgeable choices," she said.

The Joliet City Council has recently discussed a possible moratorium on more warehouse development along Route 53.

Roberto Clack, the associate director of the Warehouse Workers for Justice, said he wants to see a moratorium, along with more input from workers to address the conditions they face inside the distribution facilities.

Clack said he wanted officials to listen not only to developers and labor unions when making their decisions on adding more warehouses.

"I don't think that businesses shouldn't have a say, but that there needs to be a counter-balance," he said.

Clack said better infrastructure planning was also key. He argued increased traffic on major roadways contributed to the damage seen by recent floods, like the one that caused a section of South Chicago Street to close.

Clack said the coalition wants to keep up the pressure on officials in Joliet, and even Elwood and Manhattan. He announced during a virtual town hall on Wednesday his organization would hold a car caravan protest in Joliet ahead of the next City Council meeting on June 2.

He said they will continue with legal challenges to how the City Council handled the NorthPoint vote. Opponents unsuccessfully sought a legal stop to the vote arguing the proceedings violated the Open Meetings Act.

Irvine said residents who have spent almost three years fighting the controversial NorthPoint project won't let up.

"Our group has never been a group to take a blow and quit the race," Irvine said. "That’s now how we operate."

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