The store's drive could have become part of a North Road connector.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- The Trumbull County Planning Commission has blocked -- or at least slowed -- development of 100 acres on state Route 46 near the Eastwood Mall because of traffic concerns.
Commission members voted 6-4 not to accept a survey map of a section of the property next to Lowe's, which has been targeted for a Super Sam's Club.
The map shows the extension of a private drive off state Route 46 in Howland, several hundred feet back to where the store would be constructed within Warren city limits.
"I think we have a tremendous traffic problem," said county Commissioner Joseph Angelo Jr., who sits on the planning commission. "I would hope that if we have any further development anywhere on that road, we would have solved the problem."
The Ohio Department of Transportation will study the possible impact of changes to the intersection of state Routes 46 and 82 this summer, including adding an additional turn lane from Route 46 north onto Route 82 west, said Paula Putnam, an ODOT spokeswoman.
These improvements won't do enough to ease traffic, said Gary Newbrough, the planning commission director.
"Why do this Band-Aid when we need surgery?" he said.
The move to deny a new road for the Super Sam's Club was supported by Howland Township trustees, who unsuccessfully tried to use the courts to block the planning commission from even hearing the request by property owner Goldco of Austintown.
"This would have opened up 100-plus acres for further development," said Darlene St. George, Howland Township administrator. "We all know it is going to happen, but we need improvements here."
Angelo said he thought the Super Sam's Club, employing 50 to 75 people, would be built anyway, but the property owner said he's not so sure.
The planning commission's decision, to withhold approval for the road until there is some resolution of the traffic situation, could throw the development into jeopardy, said Mike Camacci, president of Goldco.
"It has to," he said. "The planning commission should be working together to make this work, not make it more difficult."
The road, which the planning commission refused to add to the official maps, was already approved as part of long-range planning documents for the area, said David Robison, retired Warren director of planning and engineering, speaking in favor of the project.
Construction could begin without planning commission approval on the section of the road in Warren, he said.
Long-range plans show the drive back to Super Sam's Club as part of the much-ballyhooed North Road connector, which would link state Route 46 and North Road.
Many residents oppose the planned road because they think it will increase the amount of commercial traffic and devalue their homes.