Laraway Community Consolidated School District 70C moves closer to constructing a new school.
In a unanimous vote, the Zoning Board of Appeals took action at their March 16 meeting by giving a positive recommendation to the Joliet City Council for final review and consideration.
“The reasons that they submitted in favor of the petition, we find to be clear and convincing evidence (to approve the request),” said Ed Hennessy, chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals committee.
District 70C officials intend to obtain a special use permit for a school and variations to allow the display of an illuminated sign with an LED electronic message center at 1715 Rowell Avenue.
The property in question is currently zoned R-1B Single-Family Residential District and was annexed to the City of Joliet in 2008 with construction plans lined up for this type of use, but that development never materialized.
The petitioner intends to use the approximately 25.9 acre parcel for a new school. Potential development plans will include the building of two classroom wings, a main school entrance, a secondary entry way, parking lots, a bus drive and playing fields.
The current site for Laraway School is located at 275 W. Laraway Rd. and is positioned in proximity to the intersection at Laraway Road and Route 53.
“If you’ve been to the Laraway campus, we are right at the mouth of the intermodal,” said Superintendent Dr. Joe Salmieri. “Just to the west of our property are the train tracks that are going into intermodal and that’s going to be the location of the high-speed rail from Chicago to St. Louis.
“The board believes that the best use of taxpayer money considering the safety concerns and the need for upgrades is to build a new facility,” Salmieri said. “We believe that the location combined with the educational needs and the upgrades needed with the current facility, this is the best solution.”
The Plan Commission also gave a positive recommendation at their March 16 meeting regarding the school’s request to annex 40 acres located at 275 W. Laraway Rd., drawing the unincorporated land into city limits.
District 70C seeks to sell this land and will later publicly read all bids submitted by the April 19 deadline.
Salmieri said the building of the new school is not contingent on the sale.
Construction for the new school is set to begin as early as April.
Liz Sodic, of Joliet, said though she supports the effort to build the new school, she wants to make sure that she and her neighbors who live in the nearby Sugar Creek subdivision are kept informed about the project.
“We have had issues in the past with drainage,” she said. “When Ryan (Companies) started Laraway Crossings, our pond got totally filled with silt. We’ve had issues for the last 10 or 15 years. IKEA has been extremely thoughtful and put up silt fences, but again… we’re down hill and we’re on a creek, and waters goes down that way and so does silt.”
Sodic added that she hopes their concerns are kept in mind throughout the planning process.
The Joliet City Council will hold a public hearing at their April 3 meeting regarding action required for zoning classification and annexation. The petition for a special use permit and variation will be considered at a later date.