Economic Development

TJX Rezoning Opponents File Petitions for Referendum

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – Opponents of rezoning land in Lordstown where TJX Companies Inc. wants to build a $160 million distribution center turned in petitions Thursday for a referendum to overturn the rezoning.

The Lordstown Planning Commission voted in May to rezone seven parcels to accommodate the 1.2-million-square-foot distribution center, which would service TJX’s HomeGoods stores.

William Blank, Lordstown Village clerk, said he received the petitions around 10 a.m. and took them to the county board of elections.

“I submitted the seven referendums with 1,141 total signatures from 163 registered voters to the village clerk today,” said Brett Dickson, who opposes the rezoning.

“It should be noted that these 163 voters sought us out,” he added. “We did not canvass or solicit anyone to sign.” Using social media and word of mouth, he and other opponents of the rezoning secured 130% of the signatures required.

The Trumbull County Board of Elections received the petitions around 1 p.m., according to Stephanie Penrose, director.

The petitioners were required to secure signatures from 10% of the number of voters who cast ballots in the most recent gubernatorial election, Penrose said. In 2014, 1,231 village residents cast ballots in the general election, she reported.

“I expect to have the signature check done by tomorrow. It’s not too time-consuming to check that many,” she said. When completed, the petitions will go back to the village clerk to determine if they are valid, a process that Blank said he has already completed.

Once that process is finished, the board will formally set the Aug. 21 referendum date. Village voters should be able to request absentee ballots or vote at the elections board as soon as Tuesday, Penrose said.

“I am confident that we will prevail at the vote in August,” Dickson said.

Mayor Arno Hill, who supports the rezoning, said he, too, is confident that supporters of the rezoning outnumber those who oppose it, but warned that supporters need to vote.

“We’re going to have to get the votes out. The ones against it definitely will be voting so we can’t be complacent,” he said.

TJX issued a statement in response to a request for comment.

“We respect the village’s referendum process and sincerely hope our project will have the support of the broader Lordstown community,” said Andrew Mastrangelo, a HomeGoods spokesman.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.