Prologis Industrial Park
Prologis recently presented a Concept Plan to the Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) for a proposed industrial business park on land located at the southwest quadrant of I-355 and 143rd Street, presently zoned for such development. This is the first review of many that a development of this type and size scope will go through. At a minimum, Prologis faces a multi-month review process with a number of public meetings. To-date, this proposal has not been presented to the City Council. More often than not, a project of this type will take longer simply because there are so many factors to be considered and evaluated. For instance, the applicant is subject to the City’s PUD (Planned Unit Development) review process which allows Staff, PZC, and the City Council the ability to place restriction on uses, improve aesthetics, request aeration/fountains in retention ponds, and require impact mitigation such as sound proofing and visual screening.
As with any large development, there are always concerns expressed by the residents and Council. Concerns about impacts to roads, neighborhoods, schools, the environment, home values, uses, etc. These issues will be taken into consideration and discussed at each public meeting. The Mayor and aldermen from the 1st Ward have already met with a few residents and the HOA board presidents of the neighborhoods that border the subject property to hear their initial concerns directly. This early feedback has been communicated to the petitioner and landowner. The project is in such early stages that it is difficult to comment on the plan presented to the PZC last month as it is likely that it will look very different with the next submittal. Be assured that the Staff, the Plan & Zoning Commission and the City Council will do their jobs. Before any final decisions are made, the City will carefully review all of the factors and listen objectively to the residents, petitioner and land owner. All of this taking place in public, on camera, and with the media reporting.
It is important to note that all of the entitled industrial zoning of this property predates any homes built in the City of Lockport that are adjacent to this proposed development. This includes Big Run Wolf Ranch, which has been in existence for approximately 24 years. The industrial zoning for all of the property north of existing City of Lockport neighborhoods has been in place since 1971. Construction started in these neighborhoods between 1990 and 2006.
What is next? The Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to hear from the petitioner a second time with a revised proposal on January 10th at 7pm at City Hall. This date has been changed from December 13th to allow the petitioner time to make changes to the first plan they presented. If on January 10th, the proposal receives a favorable recommendation from the PZC it will move forward for an initial review by the City Council. The date of the City Council meeting will be provided upon conclusion of the PZC recommendation. It is the obligation and duty of the Council to review the petitioner’s and land owner’s applications and currently entitled zoning rights as opportunities that bring potential new businesses, and the benefits of job creation and revenues they provide our community. When the time comes, the Council will do the same with the Prologis proposed development. If the reasonable demands that the City places on this project through the PUD review process cannot be met, then the petitioner can either revise the concept plan again or choose to not move forward.
Proposed Development Plan submitted on November 8th • Revised development plan will be available Jan 10th
Sight-line renderings showing heights of the proposed buildings
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR THE PROLOGIS PROJECT
1. Why would the City entertain an industrial business park development when there are residents who oppose it?
Any landowner has the right to develop their private property in a way consistent with city regulations. Potential users, with the consent of the property owner, have the right to present their proposals to the City for review. This particular property is zoned for industrial use and the City’s I-355 Corridor Master Plan designates the property for this type of development. The City has a three-step review process including Staff review, Plan & Zoning Commission review, and discussion by the City Council to ensure any development is within the code. This is done publicly during regularly scheduled meetings of both the Plan & Zoning Commission and City Council. This open and transparent review process is important in protecting everyone’s rights.
2. Is this land even zoned for this type of industrial development?
Yes. The land immediately north of existing Lockport residential neighborhoods and the Big Run Wolf Ranch has been zoned M1 since 1971, predating all of the aforementioned development. The land adjacent to I-355 was zoned O2 in 2001, which is the same zoning as the Heritage Crossing Corporate Center on the east of I-355. The parcel in the middle was annexed into the City and zoned M1 in 2014. All existing M1 and O2 parcels share the same ownership.
3. If the middle parcel wasn’t annexed into the City of Lockport and zoned M1, would all the land to the north remain undeveloped?
No. The existing M1 zoning to the west and O2 to the east does allow for similar type of development. If the middle parcel was not annexed into the City, a unified development would not be possible and any proposed development plan would have remained under the control of Will County. As such the City would have limited authority over how the property could be developed. With the incorporation of the middle parcel, and a single developer looking to purchase the property, the City can require that the development be reviewed as a Planned Unit Development (PUD) which allows the City the ability to place restrictions on the property.
4. Are there other places in the City (not adjacent to residential neighborhoods) that this type of industrial business park could be developed?
There is very limited space still available in Lockport for such development, and the parcels zoned for such use are already spoken for with projects that are being built or will be built in the near future. Heritage Crossing Corporate Center, 355 Corporate Center, Lockport Business Center and Prime Business Park all have development under way at this time. The only parcel that is currently undeveloped for industrial use is the former Texaco/Chevron property. While this property is currently being marketed for industrial use, its limited access poses a challenge for future development.
5. Will this development force the closure of Big Run Wolf Ranch?
While there have been suggestions of this by the owner of Big Run Wolf Ranch, no evidence as to why this is the case has yet been presented. Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo both operate in densely urban settings, so it is unclear at this time why Big Run Wolf Ranch would not be able to operate in a similar fashion. When Big Run Wolf Ranch was built, the northern border of its property was already zoned Industrial. Sometime prior to 2006, Big Run Wolf Ranch encroached onto the M1 property by constructing animal enclosures directly on the industrial zoned lands. In 2006, the current owner of the M1 parcel sold about an acre of the industrial zoned property that the animal enclosures were on to Big Run Wolf Ranch. Big Run Wolf Ranch is seen as an asset to the community, and the city will, through the PUD review process, ensure that whatever is developed to the north has minimal impact.
6. How will this development effect truck traffic in the area and what can be done to minimize the impact?
The City staff is considering traffic pattern options that will channel all truck traffic generated by the Prologis project to come and go through the proposed 143rd Street intersection near I-355. Prologis will be required to submit a traffic study showing from where the truck traffic will be coming and how that traffic will be kept off of local streets. The City is cognizant that Archer Avenue is in desperate need of widening and the addition of new safety measures. Archer Avenue is controlled by the State of Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). Access and needed improvements to obtain any access would be determined by IDOT as part of the preliminary and final development plan review processes. The City has been working with State officials to have the State prioritize the widening of Archer from New Avenue to I-355, and those efforts pre-dated the submittal of the Prologis project. But, for the Prologis project, the focus will be to keep truck traffic limited between the proposed entrance to the business park and I-355.
7. Will the proposed detention ponds become mosquito breeding grounds?
Like the detention pond that services Creekside Estates, the detention ponds that will be required for the Prologis development will be designed to achieve their main goal…to keep stormwater from flooding nearby areas. And like the Creekside detention pond, the City will require Prologis and its successors in the business park to maintain the detention ponds so they do not become stagnant and they are treated in a manner to maintain public health and safety. Detention ponds have been required in all new developments for many years in Lockport and most other communities. The same best practices that are imposed on the management of those ponds will be imposed on the Prologis detention ponds.
8. Can the City restrict uses in the business park?
Yes. The City of Lockport has the authority through the Planned Unit Development (PUD) process to prohibit certain uses on property. The City staff has already informed Prologis that specific uses will be prohibited even though they may be allowed in either the M1 or O2 zoning district. Prologis is willing to accept those restrictions and has no intent to allow any of those objectionable uses to develop on the property. Prologis’ intent in to develop a business park much like the one located on the opposite side of I-355 and to attract national and international users.
9. How will external factors such as noise, lighting and 24-hour operations be controlled?
The Prologis development will be held to same applicable City codes and ordinances related to noise and lighting as is similarly done with Lockport’s current industrial business parks. Noise is regulated in both the City’s municipal coded and zoning ordinance. A lighting plan is required as part of the preliminary development plan review process and subject to specific standards which control glare and light levels at property lines. Through the PUD review process, it is possible to restrict operations of certain buildings and/or the use of dock doors that might impact adjacent property owners.
10. Can the City buy the property and turn the property into a park?
No. It is cost prohibitive for the City to buy such a large tract of land.
11. Why weren’t residents notified of the Prologis plan in advance of the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting?
The City’s application for concept plan approval requires an applicant to send written notice of the proposal to all adjacent property owners. Prologis mailed written notice to 60 property owners whose land is contiguous to the project. The notice requirement is not mandated by local ordinance or state law, but the City requires developers to send written notice to those property owners whose property abuts the proposed development. Later in the process, the City Code requires a more extensive notice requirement if the developer chooses to move to the preliminary plan part of the process. At that point, the public hearing notice is published in the Herald News and anyone receiving a tax bill within 250 feet of the proposed project would receive written notice of the proposed project. The developer is also required to post large signs in strategic locations on the property so people driving by the land will see that some type of land use change is being proposed. In this case, the residents of Creekside did not receive written notice of the concept plan meeting because none of their individual lots are adjacent to the Prologis project. The northern boundary of Creekside is separated from the Prologis project by the long, narrow rectangular lot on which Big Run Wolf Ranch is located. Hence, the owner of Big Run Wolf Ranch received written notice of the project because his property is adjacent to the Prologis project. The same thing happened with the Hawthorne Preserve residents . . . the lots of individual townhomes are separated from the Prologis project by two vacant lots. Therefore, they didn’t receive written notice. Prologis followed the rules. Notice was given to 60 adjacent property owners. We are now engaged in a meaningful conversation with all nearby property owners as to the merits of the project. A suggestion has been made to expand the notice requirement for future concept plan reviews . . . that is a good idea and one that the City Council will consider when the Zoning Ordinance is reviewed in the future.
12. Why can’t the City change the zoning of the property to block its use for a business park?
Illinois law prescribes specific standards that must be met for zoning changes. If a property owner is not consenting to a zoning change, the City would likely face substantial monetary consequences for a unilateral change in zoning that does not satisfy the standards for zoning changes. In this case, the City has to deal with a large portion of the property that has been zoned for industrial use for 45 years. It’s likely the property was zoned for industrial use because it surrounded a sewage treatment plant that serviced all of the nearby residential areas. Any change in zoning will expose the City to substantial damages and the likely approval of an industrial project through a lawsuit . . . which will not include the protections that the City can negotiate with the developer through the regular, non-lawsuit process.
13. The City stopped the warehouses coming in next to Karen Springs, why can’t you do that here?
The Karen Springs case was completely different. In that case, the land adjacent to the neighborhood was already zoned residential. Once I-355 came in, the land owner claimed that no one would buy homes next to I-355 and therefore requested the zoning change to allow industrial. The city council did not believe that changing the zoning of the adjacent property was appropriate as the residents of Karen Springs built homes with the knowledge that they were building next to property clearly zoned residential. The Prologis site adjacent to the city of Lockport neighborhoods has been zoned M1 Industrial for over 40 years.
****Note: These are the latest property tax estimates. The updated numbers reflect the smaller building sizes currently being discussed and a conservative $13.50 per sq ft rate.
15. Video Links to previous zoning hearings on the property from 2014
Full Video: Feb 1, 2017 Committee of the Whole
Please note that the City will periodically update these FAQs to provide additional information as the project moves through the review process.
Please note that the next public meeting at which the Prologis project will be discussed will be conducted by the City Council and Committee of the Whole and held on Wednesday, February 15, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Central Square Building (City Hall) at 222 east 9th Street, Lockport.