Judge rules for Joliet, NorthPoint vote stays on agenda
City Council to hold public hearing at Tuesday meeting before vote on 2,300-acre NorthPoint plan
By Bob Okon
December 16, 2021 at 7:46 pm CST
The Joliet City Council vote on NorthPoint will proceed on Tuesday after a judge denied opponents’ attempts to delay the public hearing on the project.
Will County Judge John Pavich on Thursday ruled against Stop NorthPoint’s petition for a temporary restraining order that would have delayed the hearing and instructed the city to turn over documents related to any traffic or environmental studies.
Assistant City Attorney Chris Regis declined to comment on the judge’s ruling other than to say that the hearing is on the council agenda for Tuesday.
Attorney Richard Linden for Stop NorthPoint said that while the public hearing will go on, the lawsuit has shown that the city has not received sufficient traffic or environmental studies before the vote.
The council has twice before approved NorthPoint plans although the votes have been divided. NorthPoint has amended and expanded its plan to what is now a proposal for a 2,300-acre Compass Global Logistics Hub for warehouse development on land that would stretch south from Joliet to Elwood.
“We were able to prove that they are proceeding with this project and presumably to approve it without the benefit of a traffic study or an environmental study,” Linden said.
NorthPoint estimates that the project will generate 10,000 trucks a day when completed but promises to mitigate the traffic impact outside the Compass Global Logistics Hub with a closed-loop road system aimed at creating direct routes between the warehouses and the intermodal yards in Joliet and Elwood.
The city had twice denied Freedom of Information Act requests from Stop NorthPoint for traffic studies made a year ago and again in November.
Stop NorthPoint filed a complaint on Dec. 3 seeking a court order forcing the city to turn over documents related to traffic and environmental studies. The city then provided Stop NorthPoint with a 2020 traffic study for the previous NorthPoint plan approved by the council in December 2020.
The day before the court hearing on Stop NorthPoint’s complaint, the city provided what was labeled a draft copy of a traffic study done this month for about 500 acres of the current 2,300-acre plan.
Linden said the city has no real traffic study for the project on the agenda Tuesday because the 2020 study was for the previous plan and described as “obsolete” by Regis. The second study covers only a portion of the current proposal and is a draft study, he said.
No environmental study has been produced by the city.
Regis at the Wednesday hearing on the Stop NorthPoint complaint argued that state law does not require traffic or environmental studies before annexation hearings as will be held Tuesday. The council will vote on an annexation agreement that will provide needed zoning for the project and also outline proposals for three bridges that could be built.
Regis also insisted the city had fully complied with Stop NorthPoint’s FOIA request and had gone beyond what was required by supplying the December traffic study that the city received after getting the FOIA request.
“There is no such thing as a rolling FOIA,” Regis said at the hearing, arguing that the city was not obligated to provide relevant documents generated after the date of the FOIA request. “That was not required but we went ahead and did it.”
John Kieken, a leader of Stop NorthPoint and the plaintiff in the lawsuit filed against the city, said opposition to the project will continue at the public hearing next week.
“We expect a large turnout,” Kieken said. “We plan to be there. We expect to see a lot of citizens from Joliet there.”