Kontos Denies TRO in Lordstown Rezoning

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill said he was satisfied with today’s ruling to deny a temporary restraining order sought by opponents of the rezoning change approved by Village Council in June and upheld by voters in a special election last week.

In a judgment entry filed Tuesday afternoon, Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Peter Kontos ruled that the plaintiffs – Committee of Lordstown Concerned Residents and its treasurer, Brett Dickson – “failed to meet their burden and have not demonstrated that they are entitled to temporary or preliminary injunctive relief.”

“It was the right decision,” Hill, who supports the rezoning, said. The mayor also said TJX representatives were pleased when he informed them of the decision.

Last Wednesday, the day after village voters approved upholding the rezoning as industrial of nearly 300 acres where TJX Companies Inc. wants to build a $160 million warehouse, opponents filed a lawsuit challenging the provisions of a state law passed that permitted the special election to take place in August rather than wait until November’s general election.

Until the case could be heard on the merits, opponents of the rezoning sought a temporary restraining order to prevent the rezoning from being enacted.

In his entry, Kontos described the TRO as “an extraordinary remedy” to be approved after a plaintiff proves “four necessary elements … by clear and convincing evidence.” Those elements are a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, irreparable injury to the plaintiffs without the injunction, no prejudice to others and service of the public interest.

“We are pleased with Judge Kontos’ ruling and believe it was in line with both the case law, and what the majority of the community wanted,” attorney Molly Johnson, who is representing Lordstown landowner Harvey Lutz, said. “We await further news from TJX regarding the next steps.”

TJX has an option on 121 acres with Lutz, as well as with other village landowners. The company has yet to act on the options it has with the landowners, and likely wont until the zoning issue runs its course in court, Hill said.

At the Sept. 11 hearing, Kontos will consider a permanent injunction and declaratory relief.

“Hopefully Sept. 11 will go the same way and we can get this community back together,” Hill said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.