Lordstown nixes another hearing for TJX

LORDSTOWN — Village council on Tuesday voted against holding a public meeting with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency regarding the environmental impacts of the planned TJX HomeGoods distribution center.

The village will send a letter to the Ohio EPA — similar to what Trumbull County commissioners approved last week — stating a public hearing will not be needed. Council approved the measure 3-1, with two abstentions.

Councilmembers Lamar Liming, Donald Reider and Howard Sheely voted in favor of sending the letter declining the hearing, while councilman Robert Bond voted against sending the letter. Councilwoman Karen Jones, who spoke against the letter, was advised by Solicitor Vito Abruzzino that because she and her husband Martin filed objections and requested the hearing with the EPA, it would be a conflict for her to vote, so she abstained.

“I believe the EPA should conduct a hearing on this since this could affect the Mahoning River,” she said, noting concerns of stormwater runoff from the property.

Councilman Ron Radtka also abstained on the motion as his property is involved with the TJX project.

Jones said last fall, she and others received letters from the Army Corps of Engineers regarding a public hearing that she felt should be held. She said she responded by letter to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on her request for public hearing last October.

Mayor Arno Hill said he was aware of two complaints filed by Brett Dickson — a village resident who questioned the 1.2-million-square-foot distribution center on Ellsworth Bailey Road and a member of the group Lordstown Concerned Residents — and Martin Jones requesting public hearings.

Bond said he was concerned about any effects to the water and Duck Creek.

“I would like to have a hearing to get more information. I still have questions,” he said.

Dickson said he is displeased with the letters being sent by council and commissioners and feels the EPA should have an opportunity to look at the 6-acre pond and any stormwater runoff on the property.

“This needs to be looked at by the EPA,” he said.

Hill said there already has been discussion on stormwater retention and the village engineer has and will address concerns of stormwater management.

“I feel this is just another move by some to try to delay the project and run them out of town. We have had numerous discussions on this. This has been going on for over a year,” Hill said.

The attempt to bring the center to Lordstown was met with resistance by Dickson and other village residents who opposed a zoning change to 290 acres that was necessary for the project and approved last year by local officials. The group also led a referendum effort and filed a court case in an attempt to prevent the center from being constructed in the proposed area, but the effort failed.

The village planning commission will meet 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27 to act on an amended petition to vacate a portion of Hallock Young Road and relocate the vacated portion to create a through street, instead of a cul-de-sac, needed for TJX.

Bob Shaffer of the planning commission said they agreed to change the petition from a cul-de-sac to a through road to not hold up the project.

Officials said TJX has provided a 130-acre buffer zone with a conservation easement to protect the natural resources of the land.

Hill said he hopes village council can give a final vote to approve the site plan for the project at the March 4 meeting so TJX can break ground and move forward.

The $170 million distribution center would employ about 1,000 workers and have an annual payroll of $27 million to $30 million per year, according to company officials.