Residents of Will County strongly urge a moratorium be placed on the annexation and zoning for new warehouses and distribution centers in Village and City jurisdictions of Will County until Will County completes a comprehensive land use and transportation plan. Building on the Will County Community Friendly Freight Mobility Plan’s emphasis on protecting quality of life and improving existing roads, we now need a comprehensive land use and transportation plan that protects our communities from industrial developments that negatively impact our quality of life, natural resources, and air and water quality.
While the county can lead the land use plan, it is up to municipal officials to approve or deny the zoning for new warehouses and distribution centers. The impacts of new warehouses do not stop at municipal boundaries. Traffic from warehouses built in Elwood and Channahon affects roads in Joliet and New Lenox. We need our municipal leaders to work together to protect the quality of life of all citizens.
It’s time for a time-out on massive warehouse and distribution centers until we have a plan in place that protects our communities. Citizens of Will County want to preserve quality of life so that industry complements rather than overruns the region’s rich agricultural heritage. Citizens want diverse, sustainable economic growth rather than over-reliance on one sector. Citizens want to ensure their families continue to breathe clean air and drink clean water, and that new industrial facilities don’t pollute and decimate the beautiful natural areas that are important to the community’s identity and economy.
That plan is critical to the safety, health and quality of life of my community in that it will:
- Promote safe and efficient movement of freight through Will County while protecting others on our road system;
- Protect the prime farmland and open spaces that are growing economic assets to our region, and home to rare wildlife and recreation opportunities;
- Place the highest value on environmental justice and quality of life for those of us who live, work and recreate near the freight traffic, warehouses and distribution centers.
Five important reasons to create a comprehensive land use and transportation plan:
- The transportation infrastructure cannot handle current traffic levels. I-80 through Joliet is frequently a bottleneck, causing some drivers to divert onto local roads. The I-80/53 interchange is crumbling and cannot handle traffic levels. Since our roads are at capacity, it would be illogical to add more warehouse traffic.
- Many warehouses sit vacant. It does not make sense to pave over some of the richest farmland in the world when there are empty warehouses and land already zoned for warehouses available.
- Air quality must be protected. While intermodal is often touted for its environmental benefits in terms of placing containers on rail instead of trucks, the hubs–like Will County– experience massive amounts of diesel exhaust due to the convergence of semis in one area to pick up and drop off shipping containers. Elected officials need to protect our air quality and health by examining what measures Will County can take to move toward zero-emissions, electric vehicles.
- Sensitive natural areas must be protected. Will County is home to natural areas that provide habitat to rare grassland birds and freshwater mussels. Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and the Kankakee River cannot be replaced and must be protected from the diesel fumes, runoff, and the sound and light pollution that accompanies warehouse developments.
- We must take a hard look at whether the corporations locating in Will County are paying warehouse workers a living wage. We must also take a hard look at what percentage of goods moving through Will County are made in the United States. If taxpayers are asked to help pay for the infrastructure to support these warehouses, then taxpayers have a right to question whether this system of globalism makes sense for people and the planet.