Road Logistics

Unpopular or not, Joliet appears ready to approve NorthPoint plan again

“Nobody wants it,” Charles McAuley said a couple of times when asked about his vote against the NorthPoint plan.

McAuley, however, was one of only two no votes on the Zoning Board of Appeals, which on Thursday approved zoning variances and a special use permit for the NorthPoint project after hearing more than two hours of comments and questions from people opposed to the plan.

The plan, which involves the annexation of 1,257 acres into Joliet for the future Compass Global Logistics Hub, next goes to the City Council, where it is likely to be approved again.

Because the project involves an annexation, it needs more than a simple majority for approval.

But the council voted 6-3 for NorthPoint in April, enough to give it the green light before a Will County judge sided with opponents who sought a court order that forced Joliet to restart the process on the basis that the city failed to give proper notice before the first round of approvals.

Amid opposition that includes residents, veterans groups, and even local governments in neighboring communities, the NorthPoint plan is not only getting approved, but it’s getting approved twice.

Unless a few council members have changed their minds since April, the plan appears headed for a larger majority than last time.

Council member Don Dickinson, one of the three no votes against the plan, resigned in November.

He was replaced Monday by Herb Lande, the owner of a construction company who opponents view as a likely vote in favor of the project. Even if Lande votes against NorthPoint, another council member would have to switch to block its approval.

The variance approved by the zoning board allows warehouses and other facilities throughout the future industrial development to park more trailers than are allowed under current city regulations.

NorthPoint Director of Development Tom George argued that the city regulations are outdated and do not reflect changes in industry practice that he said reduce the numbers of trucks on the road by allowing more flexibility in loading trailers.

George presented numbers from the Institute of Traffic Engineers that showed the number of trucks generated by a million-square-foot facility dropping from 640 a day in 2012 to 220 a day in 2020, which he attributed to improved loading efficiency.

“Roughly a third of the number of trucks a day are required to serve a million-square-foot facility,” George said.

The special use permit approved by the zoning board would allow a 40-acre truck terminal on an 80-acre site west of Rowell Road and south of Brown Road.

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