OPUS PROPOSAL SURVIVES HEARINGS
The Herald News
By Mark Malone
MINOOKA — Opus North Development Corp.’s industrial plan survived two public hearings and some heated public criticism Tuesday.
In the end, the welcomed tax revenue and added jobs were too tempting for village officials to let slip away.
The Minooka village board unanimously approved Opus’ revised proposal, making way for the firm’s plans to construct 3.9 million square feet of distribution space at the northwest corner of Interstate 80 and Ridge Road.
Approximately $3 million in tax revenue per year is anticipated from the Opus industrial plan.
“It’s going to bring needed income to the village and to the schools without bringing in a lot of children. Plus, it will provide jobs for the village and the surrounding area,” Village President Dick Ellis said. “I think Opus is going to be a good neighbor to have in town.”
Village officials said the firm will begin construction on the first phase this summer and could be completed by winter. The firm does not yet have clients for the buildings, but was lured to Minooka because of its proximity to Interstate 80 and Interstate 55.
“We’re really excited because it’s a natural location and great opportunity for Minooka,” said Dave Silverman, representative of Opus, at the board meeting Tuesday. “We’re excited about it and we hope you all share our excitement.”
Village officials worked on the project for 18 months, but the original plan for the Minooka Ridge Business Park was turned down by village officials in December.
The proposal was revived at a board workshop meeting last week, when company representatives and village officials worked out an agreement.
Traffic concerns and the development’s storm water detention plan were issues in the board’s rejection of Opus’ original proposal. But significant changes were ironed out, including plans for Opus to pay the costs for road improvements and for village land that will be used for a retention pond.
Residents still voiced concerns on Tuesday about traffic and pollution created by trucks traveling from the warehouses. Estimates show the industrial development could add up to 200 vehicles per hour on Ridge Road.
Ellis believes the traffic problem will be worked out when the project is completely built out in a few years. But it was noted during the meeting, Opus had discussed plans to possibly locate in nearby communities that would have still caused traffic congestion on Ridge Road in Minooka.
“That was a concern,” Ellis said. “If we don’t take them and Channahon or Joliet takes them in, we’ll end up with the traffic and we will not have any benefit from it.
“They we’re getting calls,” he added. “It was our concern that it was someplace nearby.”
Dan Duffy, business development director for Grundy Economic Development Council, told the board the GEDC supported the Kendall County project because it would create jobs for the entire area. He said it would also “put Minooka on the map to attract other business.”
“This current board’s direction was for economic development in the community,” Village Administrator Jim Grabowski said.
Opus has constructed more than 2,200 office, industrial, retail and institutional projects across the country since it started in 1953. The company generated $1.1 billion in revenue in 2003.
“When a name like Opus gets out there and that they’ve located here, it tends to perk a lot of people up,” Grabowski said. “I think more companies will notice Minooka as a place to do business.”
tail Reporter Mark Malone can be reached at (815) 729-6172 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.