FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Openlands Media Relations
Yamys Urbano Valencia, PR and Communications Associate
Will County, IL. – (December 20, 2022) — The fight against the proposed NorthPoint Development industrial park in Will County has won an important victory. On November 29, a judge denied NorthPoint’s attempt to dismiss the case and allowed plaintiffs Openlands, Sierra Club, and Just Say No to Northpoint’s lawsuit to move forward for trial in 2023. Area residents and conservation groups have long aired concerns about the increased truck traffic, pollution, and impacts to the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie that would be caused by the development.
The lawsuit, which began in 2020, highlights the previous failed attempts by East Gate-Logistics Park, the company that seeks to build NorthPoint, to gain approval to build the 3,000-acre transportation and storage facility. Openlands, Sierra Club, and Just Say No To Northpoint joined the lawsuit to protect open spaces and rural farmers’ agricultural land next to the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. The case specifically outlines how the City of Joliet unlawfully attempted to annex these lands and violated the people’s constitutional right to due process. If allowed to proceed, the industrial park would degrade Midewin, the first national tallgrass prairie in the US, due to light and traffic pollution.
“Building an industrial park at this location would be catastrophic—adding pollution and noise from thousands of cars and trucks, and ultimately making an already deadly highway area even more dangerous,” said Matthew Ruhter, Conservation Attorney at Openlands. “NorthPoint’s damage would extend to the globally threatened landscapes of Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, which Openlands and Sierra Club have worked to protect for more than 25 years. Midewin is home to some of the rarest habitats in the world. The constant intrusion of light, noise, pollution, and vibration due to increased traffic and the infrastructure required to make space for the installation will damage this site, making it inhospitable to rapidly dwindling species of birds, bats, and other wildlife.”
The Village of Elwood, Will County, and the Village of Manhattan have all effectively turned down the project. Despite these rejections from the community, the City of Joliet and NorthPoint Development have repeatedly attempted to block legal action by Openlands, Sierra Club, and individual members of Just Say No To NorthPoint to keep the case from going to trial. These community members will now have their day in court in the wake of the recent ruling.
“Throughout this multi-year battle, NorthPoint and the City of Joliet have repeatedly attempted to stifle our voices, demean our position, and steamroll ahead despite well-reasoned and informed arguments from hundreds of community members and leaders,” said Stephanie Irvine, individual plaintiff, and organizer of Just Say No to NorthPoint. “We have been resolute in our fight, and the judge’s decision to deny NorthPoint and Joliet’s dismissal request gives all of us a voice and an opportunity to truly be heard.”
“This case is not against development. Openlands and Sierra Club have long advocated for strong regional and local planning that considers the environment, quality of life, and community input regarding the zoning of industrial developments,” said Ann Baskerville, Conservation Organizer with Sierra Club Illinois. “We have worked with business, civic, and community members on regional transportation and land use plans that allow for additional industrial development while working to minimize the negative impacts of truck traffic and diesel pollution on already overburdened communities.”
The challenge to the project will now move to trial in 2023.