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Morris, Minooka, Grundy County look to partner on Brisbin Road

Officials work to reach intergovernmental agreement on land along Interstate 80

MORRIS – With great relations between Morris, Minooka and Grundy County, officials say it’s only a matter of time before a pre-annexation agreement is reached regarding Brisbin Road.

But for now, work continues among the parties on development of a final agreement.

The municipalities, the Grundy County Highway Department and the Grundy Economic Development Council are laying the foundation for industrial development along Brisbin Road, north of Interstate 80 to Sherill Road.

That foundation relies on the construction of a concrete 80,000-pound, two-lane driving surface to replace the ultra-thin and pothole-riddled asphalt county road.

“A new roadway allows us all to be prepared for future development,” Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick said. “Developers, not the county, will pay for all construction. Companies will pay a road impact fee so residents do not, and eventually, businesses will pay property taxes that end up back in our schools and neighborhoods.”

County officials have estimated reconstruction of the 2.5-mile strip, not suitable for semitrailers as is, at $8 million.

“We can’t say when ground will be broken, but we are in sync with Minooka and Grundy County on what we want to see done in the area,” Kopczick said.

Years in the making

The open land was rezoned as industrial and commercial property years ago. The road could see up to 40,000 vehicles a day in 20 years, Grundy County Engineer Craig Cassem said. The traffic forecast, researched by a consulting firm, is based on formulas related to land use.

At that point, a six-lane road could be built, Minooka Village Administrator Dan Duffy said. Initially, it will just be a two-lane road with a median, but Cassem expects it to be four-lane road in the end.

“It will require 170 feet of right-of-way and be constructed similar to the Route 47 interchange in Morris,” Cassem said. “But money for the four-lane expansion won’t be spent until development requires it.”

The agreement, along with a memorandum of understanding, must be passed by all governmental entities so the county can recapture the cost of the road, which will service properties along each side.

The 1,900 acres lining the road belongs to two different municipalities. The east side of the road is Minooka, the west side Morris. Cassem said it’s estimated the county will need about $4,600 per acre as an impact fee to pay for construction.

The county relinquishes zoning to the respective cities, which can be altered if a developer comes with a great plan, Kopczick said. Both Minooka and Morris will reach agreements with developers on a road impact fee to pay back the county for the proposed roadwork.

“Morris and Minooka have agreed the price per acre will be the same on both sides,” Kopczick said. “A developer can’t pit one of us against the other for the best price.”

The agreement’s final details are centered around water and sewer fees to be paid by developers.

“There are a few developers interested in land positioned along Brisbin Road,” said Nancy Ammer, CEO of the Grundy Economic Development Council. “We’re currently awaiting Nicor to improve gas lines in the area for future use.”

Ammer said the Brisbin Road/I I-80 interchange was built for highway retail and light industrial development.

“It’s an ideal interchange because there’s little residential traffic,” Ammer said. “It brings in an industrial tax base that benefits all communities, which as a result keeps taxes low for residents.”

The interchange has already alleviated semi traffic from the two closest interchanges: Ridge Road in Minooka and Route 47 in Morris, Ammer said. Trucks heading to power plants, the landfill and warehouses once drove by schools in Minooka. Now they don’t.

“The beauty of Brisbin Road development north of I-80 is it won’t co-mingle with residential traffic or schools,” Ammer said.

Mutual municipal benefit

Industrial development on each side of the boundary lines will help each municipality economically.

“It’s an understatement to say this wouldn’t happen without good relationships with our neighbors,” Duffy said. “You just don’t see new interchanges pop up very often.”

As a county full of small towns, some might oppose further development. Ammer said there’s already $10 million in annual property tax from existing companies that goes back to local communities. That total will grow as developers set up shop.

“I’ve always said there’s room for everyone in Grundy County,” Ammer said. “Residents are beneficiaries of taxes paid by the companies. They’re also beneficiaries of job creation. These companies will supply some of the best jobs in the county.”

The goal is for Grundy County to purchase land for the 170-foot right-of-way this year, Cassem said. The county is hiring appraisers to negotiate sales prices with landowners.

Street lights won’t go in until development warrants it. Cassem said Kendall County is looking to reconstruct Sherill Road, the border of the two counties, and possibly other roads, as it anticipates further development.

Minooka officials see it as the next step in economic growth for the village, evidenced by 60 acres purchased last year for a regional retention pond, rather than digging several. Industrial park space along Ridge Road will be full in the next five to 10 years, Duffy said.

“The hope is people won’t have to leave Minooka to go to work,” Duffy said. “Our recent boundary line agreement could bring us to a population of 50,000 to 60,000 one day.”

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