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  • Megann Horstead

Laraway school construction now hinges on Joliet City Council approval

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 the construction of 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 is looking to sell this land and will later publicly read all bids submitted by the April 19 deadline.