Lordstown looking for feedback on distribution center

LORDSTOWN — Both critics and supporters of the proposed TJX HomeGoods distribution center will have at least two opportunities to voice their concerns during hearings before the village planning commission and village council.

The village planning commission is scheduled to have a hearing at 6:30 p.m. March 21 in council chambers to discuss proposed zone changes to the two largest properties, which now are owned by the Lutz family and DDR of Ohio LLC. The changes would make the properties industrial rather than residential.

The Lutz property is 127.75 acres and DDR of Ohio LLC is 52 acres, according to the Lordstown Planning and Zoning office.

TJX is the parent company of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, Home Goods and Sierra Trading Post. It is proposing to place a 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center on 290 acres at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Bailey Road, across from the General Motors plant. The project is expected to bring 1,000 jobs to the community within five years.

During a public hearing Monday, TJX officials said the company will be coming to Lordstown for the long haul, emphasizing it will own the property and build its own facility. It also said the jobs expected to be made available will range from entry level to management positions.

Joe Dubord, senior vice president of distribution, described TJX as a company in which people, such as himself, have been able to work their way up from distribution offices to management positions.

Ericka Tower, a spokewoman with TJX, said the property’s size will allow it to be designed in such a way to minimize the plant’s impact on neighboring areas. There will be forested buffer on some sides and landscaping on others.

“We were excited to receive many positive comments about the project,” she said.

Members of the planning commission will have five days after the public hearing — March 26 — to consider the proposal and then will vote either to support or reject the proposed zone changes. It then would send a letter to council providing its recommendation.

Lordstown Village Planning Commission is comprised of Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill, City Council member Don Reider, Tim Rech, Richard Rook and Tony Schofer.

Council then will have its own public hearing on the subject, prior to it taking its first vote on whether to approve or reject the zone changes.

“Typically, council’s public hearing is held right before the council meeting at which the first vote is to occur,” Hill said. “Because this has a lot of public interest, council may decide to do something different.”

It takes three readings for council to approve or reject a zone change.

“It will take a unanimous vote of council to reject a planning commission recommendation of approving the zone change because one of the village’s council members, Ronald Radka, must abstain from voting,” Hill said.

Radka’s family is involved with the land sale of the DDR of Ohio LLC property, Hill said.

The final vote to either support or reject the proposed zone changes will take place in mid-to-late May, Hill said.

If council approves the zone changes, opponents then would have to place a referendum on the ballot to stop the zone changes.

“It will be difficult to attract another developer to the area if we turn 1,000 jobs away,” Hill said.