Lordstown must say ‘yes’ on Tuesday

Tuesday, voters in Lordstown will cast ballots on seven referendum zoning change issues that, if defeated, will put an end to a promise of more than 1,000 sorely needed new local jobs.

Without the necessary zoning change on seven large parcels of land totaling 290 acres in Lordstown, TJX likely will pull the plug on construction and development of its planned new distribution center that could act as somewhat of a midwest headquarters for the giant retailer. If the measures are defeated, the company instead will likely head east to implement Plan B in western Pennsylvania and Trumbull County will lose.

Undeniably, if this issue were presented in many other local communities, its welcome would have been a no brainer. For the Lordstown mayor and many members of council it was. The zoning change from residential to commercial was granted in June by a council vote of 3-2. (Council members Karen Jones and Robert Bond voted no. Ronald Radtka abstained because a conflict of interest, as he owns part of the land in question.)

Not so, however, for 160 or so residents who signed each of the seven petitions led by opposing residents Brett and Kathy Dickson and Councilwoman Jones.

We urge voters to vote yes seven times on Tuesday. A “yes” vote supports the zoning change for the TJX development.

A “no” vote would stop the rezoning plan and essentially stop the planned new development on this land.

Despite support from most of village council, the village’s zoning commission that approved the rezoning from residential to commercial in May, a vast number of elected state and federal officials, area business and economic leaders and countless Lordstown residents — not to mention all the people that own the parcels of land — this issue is hardly a done deal.

That’s why Lordstown residents must turn out to support the issue Tuesday. Every vote is vitally important and its passage should not be taken for granted.

Let’s examine the issue.

The location at Ellsworth Bailey and Hallock Young roads is near the turnpike, allowing trucks to enter and exit the facility without traveling on village surface streets. Further, the parcels of land in question are already abutted by highways and industrial properties in an area that screams industrial zoning.

Still, TJX has promised that sound and visibility buffers will be maintained so surrounding homes will not be affected.

Within the facility is planned 30,000 square feet of office space. Certainly, the company would not be going to the great expense and effort to purchase, rezone and build this giant facility without plans to follow through as a good neighbor and good employer.

Residents also should remember that in government, “industrial use” zoning is considered the highest and best use. That is what subdivisions like Lordstown should aspire to acquire. It means good things for the tax base and for future development. Obviously that means very good things for the taxpayers who hope to be able to live in a community with good roads, schools and jobs, without bearing the brunt of these expenses themselves.

Further, only economic growth like this will drive residential development.

At a time when jobs are fleeing our market — let’s not forget the recent cuts at the Lordstown GM complex and all the ancillary businesses, last week’s announcement of the looming loss of 388 jobs at Northside Medical Center and the loss of large retail establishments like Kmart — shouldn’t we be welcoming the promises of development and jobs from TJX?

Lordstown voters must vote smart on Tuesday. Turn out and say “yes” to maintain the zoning change that will open the door on economic growth.

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