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Local Election

Joliet council votes Tuesday on expansion of Love's incentives

A Love's Travel Stop can be seen in, 2018, in Dwight, Illinois.
A Love's Travel Stop can be seen in, 2018, in Dwight, Illinois.

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The Joliet City Council on Tuesday will consider expanded incentives for the Love's Travel Stop and approval for another East Side gas station planned for Route 6.

The council will consider a proposal to lift a $2.5 million cap on incentives aimed at funding the extension of water and sewer lines to the Love's Travel Stop yet to be built at the Briggs Street interchange with Interstate 80.

The other gas station is a Gas N Wash proposed for Route 6 and Gougar Road, which got a no recommendation from the Plan Commission in August but generated no discussion at the council's workshop meeting on Monday.

The council discussed the Love's proposal at length after resident Marge Cepon described it as a "blank check" for the future truck stop.

"It's clear the costs have exploded, and Love's wants Joliet to fund the entire thing for water and sewer," Cepon said.

Assistant City Attorney Chris Regis said the city still is working with a $2.5 million estimate on the cost of extending water and sewer lines, but the new proposal is aimed at covering higher costs if they occur.

"Everyone knew a cost estimate is just that. It's an estimate," Regis said.

The new proposal retains a previous provision allowing Love's to keep 40% of city sales taxes for up to 10 years to cover infrastructure costs. It adds a recapture agreement that would require future developers for the next 20 years to pay tap-on fees to Love's instead of the city for using the water and sewer lines that Love's builds.

Regis said that the incentives end either when Love's recovers its costs or at the end of the set time periods whether or not costs have been recovered.

The Love's truck stop was approved in October 2018 in a controversial vote after facing strong opposition from residents in the area. At the time, the plan was to open in late 2019. But it has taken two years to get additional approvals from the city, township, county and state needed before construction can begin, Love's attorney Michael Hansen told the council.

"We will be ready to go next year," said Hansen, predicting construction will start in the spring.

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