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EPA gives water quality OK to TJX

To read the water quality certification report from the Ohio EPA for the HomeGoods distribution center project in Lordstown, click here

LORDSTOWN — The process to permit construction of a massive distribution center for off-priced home fashion retailer HomeGoods has passed another critical step, this one at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The agency Tuesday issued water quality certification to TJX Companies Inc. — the parent company of HomeGoods — for the 1.2 million-square-foot building, parking lots, storm water detention pond and driveways on Ellsworth Bailey Road.

Also Tuesday, the Western Reserve Port Authority, OK’d entry for TJX into a capital lease program through the port authority’s economic development arm.

“The project itself would be owned (by the port authority) and leased back to TJX for five years,” said Anthony Trevena, director of economic development for the Northeast Ohio Development and Finance Authority. “What that does for the company, it assists them with cost savings with incentives to building in the community.”

The move will let about $50 million of the $100 million to build the facility be exempt from sales tax, a savings of roughly $3 million, Trevena said, who estimates 45 to 50 percent of the cost of erecting a commercial building is in material.

And since most of the materials will be from outside the local area, there will not be a significant impact on the local tax base, Trevena said.

The Ohio EPA certification is necessary for the company’s application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for permission to discharge dredged or fill material from construction into streams and wetlands.

“Discharges from the project will impact wetlands and degrade the water quality of streams within the Duck Creek watershed,” a release from the Ohio EPA states.

To offset the effects to streams and ponds, TJX has agreed to restore and enhance two streams adjacent to the property, one of 775 feet and another of 1,082 feet, and buy 4,690 credits from the Stream and Wetlands Foundation.

Mitigation of the proposed wetland impacts consist of buying 0.60 acres of in-lieu fee credits from the foundation and preserving 4.65 acres of category two wetlands, which are deemed moderate quality wetlands.

The remaining on-site streams, wetlands and buffer areas within the preservation area will be preserved in perpetuity through a conservation easement.

About 130 acres of forested woodland adjacent to the development will be preserved.

A spokeswoman with TJX declined to comment.

Ty Bintrim, north branch chief of the regulatory division for the Pittsburgh District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said TJX filed the application to discharge the fill material in September.

Ohio EPA’s certification isn’t required to be part of the application, but the Army Corps requires it.

“We’ve been reviewing the application and we are working on making our permit decision, and we intend to issue our permit decision by the end of the month,” Bintrim said.

The Army Corps weighs the proposed impacts to streams and wetlands when making its determination.

“We make sure the application has proposed to avoid, minimize and, if they cannot minimize to the furthest extent, we review a mitigation plan from them to mitigate the stream impacts,” Bintrim said.

The Ohio EPA’s certification is the second big hurdle in about a week for the proposed center, which on March 11 received conditional site approval from the planning commission in Lordstown.

Earlier this month, village council OK’d vacating a portion of Hallock Young Road and relocating it after initial plans that were rejected called for creating a cul-de-sac. The road project is expected to begin in April.

The $140 million to $170 million center would employ 1,000 people within three years of completing construction. The annual payroll would be $27 million to $30 million.

rselak@tribtoday.com

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