For three months, Lordstown has debated the merits of a zone change and whether a TJX warehouse should be built. Thursday evening, council finally decided to approve the zone change by a 3-2 vote, which now sets up a distinct possibility of a voter referendum in August.
After a meeting lasting an hour and 15 minutes, Lordstown Village Council voted to change the zoning of 290 acres at the intersection of Ellsworth Bailey and Halleck Young roads from residential to commercial so TJX can build a HomeGoods distribution center.
There was no reaction after the vote — no one cheered and no one booed. It’s almost as if they knew what was coming.
The two council members who voted no didn’t want to comment after the meeting, but council member Don Reider, who voted yes, said it was the best thing for the community.
“I think that the jobs coming here is going to help this community, going to help the school system, definitely.”
Harvey Lutz owns a large piece of land where TJX will build. He wore one of the several yellow t-shirts that read, “TJX: Right project, right property.”
“I kind of expected it’d go this way, I’ve been feeling it,” he said. “I’m happy for me, of course, but as well as the community. I really am.”
Before the vote, 18 people spoke. Some were for the project, but the majority were against it.
“Because you’re a $500 million company, you can go talk to somebody else, get the legislators to do what you want,” Gary Marr said.
“Well, if this goes through, I’m going to be kicked out of my house because I’m not going to live next to industry,” John Saxon said.
“If you do this tonight, I’m telling you, nobody will move to Lordstown to build a house because you’re setting precedents and you’re basically saying to everybody, ‘Nothing’s off limits,'” Gary Kohut said.
Doreen Thompson, Vice President of TJX, released a statement about the decision:
We are pleased with the results of today’s Lordstown Village Council vote and are grateful to the Council for its support of our proposed distribution center project. We wish to reiterate our deep commitment to being a good neighbor in Lordstown and having a positive impact on the community, and look forward to continuing through the process to make this project a reality.”
Congressman Tim Ryan was also pleased with the outcome of the vote, stating:
“Today we reached yet another major milestone in what has been a long and arduous journey to bring TJX Homegoods to the Mahoning Valley. We have all worked long and hard to make this project a reality. I applaud Mayor Hill and Lordstown officials for doing their part tonight. Workers in our area will be better off because of this achievement. I continue to be encouraged by the resilience and support of the Lordstown community and its elected leadership. I will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure that this facility, with its thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in payroll and revenue, comes to our region.”
Those against the decision made a promise.
“If this passes, we will seek a referendum. We were told we needed to do that,” Brett Dickson said.
Neighbors who oppose the change have 30 days to put the issue on the ballot.