Judge Denies Injunction; Paves Way for TJX Project

WARREN, Ohio – Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Peter Kontos today ruled against an injunction that would block the development of a 1.2 million square-foot TJX HomeGoods distribution center in Lordstown.

In his order, Kontos ruled for dismissal “pursuant to the doctrines of laches” – unreasonable delay in asserting a right “and mootness.”

The sections of House Bill 292 that opponents of the rezoning sought to challenge went into effect June 14, Lordstown Village Council approved the rezoning June 21, and the special election for the referendum seeking to overturn the zoning changes took place Aug. 21.

The plaintiffs filed their challenge the following day to the provisions of H.B. 292 that allowed the special election, in which the village electorate “voted overwhelmingly” in favor of the rezoning and after the village and electorate “expended the time, effort and public funds” to conduct the special election.  

“Plaintiffs have failed to show that they acted with the diligence required,” Kontos said in his order. He also disputed that plaintiffs’ contention that the two sections of the bill created “a disunity of subject matter,” and were thus in violation of the Ohio Constitution’s one-subject rule, or that it violated the uniformity clause, because its provisions could be utilized by any village that met the stated requirements of job creation and level of investment.

Kontos also ruled that H.B. 292 had no impact on the result of the abstention of Councilman Ron Radtka, who did not vote on the rezoning because his family had property that was involved in the project.

Elected officials who supported the project hailed Kontos’ ruling.

After many months of meetings, debates, campaigns, and litigation it is finally time to get construction underway,” U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, said. “This new facility will be a huge victory for Lordstown and our entire community. So many people in this community have worked together to make sure this project became reality, and today, that effort has come yet another step closer to reality. This is what’s best for Northeast Ohio,” he continued.

“I am very pleased with the judge’s ruling this morning, as it means we can now move ahead with bringing over 1,000 badly needed jobs to our region,” said state Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-32, Bazetta.  “Judge Kontos’ ruling also legitimizes the result of the August 21 referendum, in which the vast majority of Lordstown voters cast their ballots in favor of the project.”

TJX wants to build a $160 million distribution center in Lordstown on land along Bailey Road and Hallock Young Road.

Residents near the proposed distribution center opposed the development at the site, stating it would decrease the value of their homes and lead to increased truck traffic.

Lordstown officials earlier this year approved a zoning change to accommodate the development, but those opposed forced the issued to a referendum.   

O’Brien added an amendment to House Bill 292 that allowed the referendum to go forward Aug. 21 instead of during the November general election.  Lordstown residents voted to support the rezoning and the project.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.