Channahon OKs development plan for I-55 and Route 6
By Jeanne Millsap Correspondent December 14, 2012 4:38PM
Updated: January 22, 2013 6:09AM
The Channahon Village board approved an annexation agreement with Bluestone Retail Partners for the development of the property at the northwest corner of the Route 6/Interstate 55 intersection, with five trustees and the village president voting for it and Trustee Judie Nash voting against.
The measure did have some strident opposition from a handful of residents who attended the meeting, however, many of whom were 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.
“Is Channahon going to be known as ‘Truck City?’” resident Dick McCrite said.
“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 is not a truck stop,” Trustee Scott Slocum replied.
Slocum said the development at the site is progress and will result in a safer intersection after the developer reconfigures the northwest frontage road as required in the agreement.
“This redesigned frontage road will make it safer,” Slocum said. “And we do need some more choices here, instead of spending our money in Minooka. We need to put businesses here in town and put our people to work here in Channahon.”
Bluestone Retail Partners plans to develop the 13.7 acres of the Hammel farm at the interchange with a 6,500-square-foot “state of the art” Thornton’s convenience store and gas station. The proposal is for 24 automobile fueling stations and five commercial fuel positions.
Bluestone CEO and President Rick Claes presented plans to the village board during a public hearing in November and said he also will market the property to either two quick-service restaurants and a limited-service hotel or to three restaurants if a hotel chain is not interested.
The village has spent years attempting to attract development there, but the hang-up has always been the alignment of the frontage road and issues regarding traffic getting back on the interstate or on to Route 6. The adjacent Pilot station has given residents and the police department headaches for years, with semi drivers disobeying traffic laws and blocking Route 6 drivers or venturing into area neighborhoods as a shortcut.
Most residents at the meeting used the problems created by the existing truck stop to object to the new development.
“Pilot wasn’t our druthers,” Village President Joe Cook said. “Trust me, if we had any legal means to stop Pilot, we would have.”
Cook explained that Pilot came in to an existing business site, whereas the new developer has signed an annexation agreement sharply regulating traffic flow and other conditions. And the realignment of the frontage road will loop it west around the gas station, hotel and restaurants, then south to meet up with the existing southwest frontage road, just west of the McDonalds, he explained, thus reducing the accident rate and the many “near misses” that occur there each day.
Trustee Jerry Papesh added that the complex will bring in quite a few tax dollars to the community. The tax-producing potential of the development is estimated to bring in $800,000 to $1 million in retail tax per year.