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New complex to bring jobs, revenue, options

Development doesn’t come without concerns

CHANNAHON — The new gas station, hotel and restaurant complex that is scheduled for development at the northwest corner of the U.S. 6/Interstate 55 intersection will bring jobs, tax revenue and new places for Channahon residents to dine, according to the Channahon Board of Trustees.

Earlier this month, the board approved an ordinance to execute an annexation agreement with developer Bluestone Retail Partners, LLC, to complete the job.

Five trustees and the village president voted for the agreement, and Trustee Judie Nash voted against.

The agreement also calls for the developer to have a new, re-aligned northwest frontage road in place and functioning before the retail is opened. And that, trustees said, is key to the development.

Developers have come and gone with proposals for the site for years, but the configuration of the frontage road and the width and condition of the U.S. 6 bridge over Interstate 55 always got in the way of development of the property.

This time, however, the developer agreed to re-align the frontage road by looping it west around the gas station, hotel and restaurants, then south to meet up with the existing southwest frontage road, just west of the McDonald's.

The measure, the village board hopes, will reduce the accident rate there at U.S. 6 and the many “near misses” that occur there each day, and it will help keep traffic exiting the interstate from backing up.

The measure did have some opposition from residents who attended the meeting earlier this month, however. Many of them are assuming the development will add to the truck traffic at the site, already hazardous, they said, from the Pilot Travel Center just to the east.

Village President Joe Cook said he believed the truck traffic to and from the Pilot will decrease with the new gas station, as south-bound trucks will not have to cross the bridge and go to Pilot for gas. They can quickly fuel up at the pumps at the new station, grab a bite to eat, drive straight across U.S. 6 where the village hopes IDOT will approve a traffic signal, and merge back onto the interstate.

Trucks will not be allowed to park at the site overnight, either, and there will be no showers at the station.

The potential of bringing in any more trucks at all to the intersection, however, was not acceptable to some who attended the meeting. 

“I think all we’ll see is a big truck stop there,” resident Joe Guglielmett said. “I think we should have asked the people in the village what they think about it.”

“I am a resident for 33 years,” Addie Blomquist told the board, “and I am so upset. ... I’m ashamed to live here. I’m tired of truck stops and pizza parlors here. Don’t we deserve more than that? Can someone look me in the eye and tell me why we have to have another truck stop?”

“This isn’t a business that will bring in more trucks,” Cook responded. “It isn’t that kind of business.”

Channahon resident Dick McCrite also asked about the somewhat narrow overpass and how it would be able to handle any increase in traffic. Cook said IDOT is currently in Phase 2 of studying widening the bridge for six lanes.

Also at the meeting, the board approved renewing the PACE Paratransit local share agreement. The village will contribute $6,152, with Channahon Township paying the same amount, for 2013. PACE provides door-to-door service for residents from Channahon to Joliet for doctors’ visits and shopping via Dial-a-Ride.

The service days are tied into service to Manhattan and Wilmington. Service hours were expanded this past year.

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