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New judge to preside over FOIA lawsuit for Northpoint traffic studies

A Stop Northpoint leader’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the City of Joliet will be assigned to a new judge.

Judge John Anderson signed an order on Wednesday to recuse himself from a case concerning a lawsuit filed by Stop Northpoint leader John Kieken.

“Because the undersigned has friends and family members with personal interests in both sides of the controversy, the undersigned must recuse,” Anderson’s order said.

The case was transferred to Judge Roger Rickmon for reassignment.

Ron Adamski (left) and John Kieken of Stop NorthPoint watch the Joliet Zoning Board of Appeals hearing from a monitor on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, at Joliet City Hall in Joliet

Ron Adamski (left) and John Kieken of Stop NorthPoint watch the Joliet Zoning Board of Appeals hearing from a monitor on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, at Joliet City Hall in Joliet, Ill. (Geoff Stellfox/)

Attorneys will still meet Thursday morning for a hearing regarding Kieken’s lawsuit and his emergency motion to compel city officials to provide any traffic studies ahead of the Dec. 21 City Council vote on the new Northpoint plan.

Council members are scheduled to vote on an annexation plan that adds more than 1,000 acres to what the council approved a year ago. NorthPoint now plans to develop more than 2,300 acres for warehouses stretching from Joliet to Elwood.

If city officials are unwilling or unable to provide traffic studies to the public, Kieken’s emergency motion has requested a suspension of the Dec. 21 public hearing until the records are provided to the public.

“If Joliet cares about the welfare of its residents, it will not oppose this motion,” Kieken’s motion said.

Concerned citizens pack the City Council Chambers at the Joliet Plan Commission meeting regarding NorthPoint's development of the Compass Business Park. Thursday, Nov.18, 2021 in Joliet.

Concerned citizens pack the City Council Chambers at the Joliet Plan Commission meeting regarding NorthPoint’s development of the Compass Business Park. Thursday, Nov.18, 2021 in Joliet. (Gary Middendorf – gmiddendorf@shawmedia.com/)

On Dec. 3, Kieken’s attorneys filed a lawsuit that said he submitted a FOIA request on Nov. 15 for any traffic and environmental studies related to the new Northpoint development project.

Assistant Corporation Counsel Chris Regis denied the request on Nov. 19, according to Kieken’s lawsuit.

Regis denied Kieken’s request because the records he seeks are “preliminary drafts or notes in which opinions are expressed or policies are formulated, unless the record is publicly cited and identified by the head of the public body.”

Regis said no records exist regarding environmental studies.

Kieken’s attorneys argued the denial of his request violates the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

“The decision is arbitrary, capricious and against the manifest weight of the evidence,” Kieken’s lawsuit said. “There is no factual or legal support for the denial.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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