Residents are objecting to a plan to develop a cannabis farm in Joliet close to the Sugar Creek neighborhood.
The proposed cannabis farm would be at the corner of Manhattan Road (Route 52) and Alessio Drive on land owned by members of the Alessio family who have a construction company in the same area.
It is an area that is a mix of residential, commercial and industrial development.
The East Side Church of Christ is across Alessio Drive from the proposed cannabis growing facility.
On the other side is the Sugar Creek neighborhood, Richard Welch and some of his neighbors are worried about the proposed cannabis operation.
At a community meeting with the Alessios on Tuesday, residents raised concerns about odors after reading reports of skunk-like smells coming from cannabis growing facilities.
“I asked them who wanted to go out in their backyard in the morning to have coffee and smell marijuana?” Welch said Thursday.
Welch said residents did not get good answers and the meeting “didn’t go well,” especially when a comment was made threatening to bring a truck operation onto the site if the cannabis plant was not approved.
The plan needs city approval.
The plan goes to the Joliet Zoning Board of Appeals and Plan Commission for review April 21. The City Council also would have to approve aspects of the plan for the cannabis facility to be built.
The Alessios need a special use permit for a cannabis operation.
They also need a variation on a city requirement that cannabis operations be 250 feet away from residential areas. That distance would be shrunk to 40 feet under the proposed variation.
Parts of the site also would have to be rezoned from residential to industrial.
But when Megan Cooper came to a City Council meeting Tuesday to object to the project, city officials said they knew little about it.
Eva-Marie Tropper, the city’s director of community development, had a little more to say about it Thursday.
“I don’t know if their plan is ready yet. I’m still looking into it,” Tropper said. “Obviously, we have some concerns from the residents.”
Michael Alessio said Thursday that it is too early to discuss the plan for the site.
“All of our plans right now are conceptual,” Alessio said, adding that changes are being considered “based on concerns that we heard.”
While the project still needs city approval, neighbors said trees on the site were cleared away last year and fill was added for what looks like a potential construction site.
“They took out so many trees that they ran the wildlife out,” Welch said.
Alessio said there has been no new construction on the site.
The site along Manhattan Road at Alessio Drive is on the north end of an industrial park that includes an Alessio & Sons construction facility.
Alessio said the company has stored construction equipment on the site for years.