[Eric Ginnard - email@example.com]
The people that filled the Joliet City Council chambers to object to the Smith farm annexation pale in comparison to the crowds that came out to oppose the NorthPoint plan for a 2,000-acre warehouse development farther south along Route 53.
In both cases, Jackson Township officials and state Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood, joined the residents in voicing opposition to the plans. But the Elwood Planning and Zoning Commission last week also gave its preliminary approval to the NorthPoint plan.
In Joliet, council members who voted for the Smith farm annexation said they agreed with the case being made that there was no future for residential development in the area.
“There are no houses being built down there,” council member Larry Hug said. “The choice was vacant or industrial.”
The city’s own Southside Comprehensive Plan, created when warehouses were first coming to that section of Joliet, called for the Smith farm property to eventually be developed into residential subdivisions.
Advocates for the Smith farm annexation said the plan was obsolete, having been created before the housing boom that was occurring in Joliet was halted in the recession and before the rapid development of warehousing on the south end of the city.
“Eleven years is pretty old,” council member John Gerl said of the plan. “Many, many things have changed since that plan was developed. ... The market is completely different.”
The plan was designed in part to avoid situations in which warehouses are built right next to residential subdivisions.
Gerl said that kind of development has occurred elsewhere in Joliet, pointing to warehouses along Houbolt Road that abut houses on the West Side.
“They’re co-existing,” he said.
Gerl said subdivisions on the south end of Joliet may have to become neighbors to warehouses. He said the city will work on development agreements when the warehouses are built to create buffers for the neighborhoods.
“That’s how they co-exist – make sure they’re good corporate neighbors,” Gerl said.