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B.J. Alan seeks Austintown land



Published: Thu, November 12, 2009 @ 12:10 a.m.

By DON SHILLING and ELISE FRANCO

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITERS

YOUNGSTOWN — B.J. Alan Co. wants to build a new Phantom Fireworks retail store on Meridian Road, but first it needs the six-acre site it owns to be annexed into Youngstown.

The site, across from the Salt Springs Road Industrial Park, is in Austintown, but the company cannot build a store in the township. Its state license says the store must be in Youngstown because it was issued for the retail store now located downtown in the former Greyhound bus terminal.

The downtown store would be closed if the new one is built, said William Weimer, B.J. Alan vice president and general counsel.

The company filed a petition for the annexation with the Mahoning County commissioners, who will have a hearing on the request.

Austintown Trustee Dave Ditzler said the hearing is in January, and the township board will support the annexation.

“It’s a good project, and it’s not a hostile annexation,” he said. “It’s a property owner looking to do this to meet the legal restrictions of his license.”

The company first brought up the annexation two years ago, and township trustees became concerned that it would lead to other annexation requests.

Trustees proposed creating an economic development district in undeveloped township land near the site so that there would be no further annexation. The district would have allowed the city to charge income tax for workers in the district, but the township would get the property tax on the land.

“We wanted something like a ‘no annexation’ clause for a certain period of time on the two lots behind the property,” Ditzler said. Youngstown wasn’t “willing to agree with anything outside of what their authority gave them the ability to do.”

B.J. Alan has since bought the property.

Weimer said the annexation request never was approved because of debate over the development district, so this time the company filed the request with the county commissioners instead of working through the city and township.

He said company officials would have preferred to avoid annexation by finding a high-visibility site in the city but they were unable to reach a deal on any such site.

Weimer said the Merdian Road location will give the Phantom Fireworks store better access to potential customers because it is located near Interstate 80 as well as Interstate 680.

It also would be larger than the current 2,500-square foot store. The new one would have 5,000 square feet of showroom space, which is the most allowed by state law, Weimer said.

He said the new store, which would cost $1.5 million, would be similar to the one built on Market Street in Beaver Township, although the company’s prototype has changed somewhat. The latest in fire suppression and smoke removal systems would be included, he said.

The Beaver Township store has a total of 13,000 square feet for inventory and offices, but the new store would be slightly smaller because it would not have as much office space, he said.

Weimer said the new store probably would not be completed in time for next year’s summer sales season, but company officials are expecting it to be ready by 2011.

B.J. Alan, which was founded by local entrepreneur Bruce Zoldan, operates 55 retail stores in 13 states and 1,200 temporary stands, primarily in the West.


Comments

1olepops45(39 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

With all of the vacant land in Youngstown, keep the B.J. Allan store on their side of the street.

Austintown does not need this headache, regardless of trustee Ditzler thinks. Just as we have some undesirable usage at the other I-80 exit, it doesn't mean we should cave into what Y-town and Allen want now at the expense of better use later. Even with the short term exceptions and short sighted thinking, it still appears to be more land grabbing by Youngstown.

Make your feelings clear to the township at the "hearing in January". I guess they are keeping the date secret until the last minute hoping for a low turnout.

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2XBROWNSX(35 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I'm with Trustee Ditzler, there is nothing shady going on here and simply a good company wanting to be in full compliance with it's state license. Plus, it's at a great location in Austintown for this type of business. As a trustee, Ditzler is doing a job he was elected to do for all residents of Austintown. Just my opninion.

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3UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

People don't want this Y-town trash business in Austintown. How any trustee could supoort this annexation is beyond me? Maybe he's getting some payment to support? I would hope Austintownites would be flooding the meeting telling them to keep their fireworks in Y-town proper and not move it into A-town losing the land as well.

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4ytownsteelman(627 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

So what would happen to the Pennsylvania Railroad station if BJ Alan moves out? Its a classic structure that should be preserved.

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5SWEETEDDIE(35 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

PEOPLE,PEOPLE,PEOPLE,STOP THE CRYING AND LET ANYTHING THAT MAY BRING JOBS OUT OF THIS MOVE,ALONE.YOU PEOPLE HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO BUT B...H AND MOAN....STOP

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6aeparish(669 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Eddie, they're just moving the facility. I'm sure very few, if any, additional jobs will be created as a result...

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7dd933(223 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

To paraphrase a quote from Ben Franklin, "Gentlemen, we had better hang together or we shall all hang separately."

This would be a no brainer in the cities where your children are moving to.

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8ATown(8 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I guess emotions are more prevelant than brains, the Trustees do not have any authority to stop a land owner that wants his property annexed. It is not Youngstown grabbing the land it is the property owner requesting to change it. And oh by the way when was the last time one of you drove by this area? Wake up it's an improvement with any addition.....Save the Township money by not fighting a loosing legal battle and create some jobs. Nice job Trustees........

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9dand1313(20 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

"this would be a no brainer....probably the best observation and response to the local parochialism ever....great quote dd933

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10AKAFR1(322 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Does this mean that Austintown will lose the property tax that is paid on this land?

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11Lifes2Short(3875 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Unreal, you have a legit company wanting to move to a bigger area and you still complain, it's amazing how much you bi@# about EVERYTHING! People get a life and move forward in life, not backwards! geez.......

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12jeffhoef1(45 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Bruce Zoldan is a great guy and has been slapped around by youngstown often. Remember he was on the Convocation Board that was disbanded when council tried to get their hands on the money. How he tried to bring decent hockey (tournaments) to y-town and was rebuffed by that Herb (loser). We are lucky to have a businessman of his stature in this area. We need people like him to provide jobs. I know he's not here for the weather, please give him a chance.

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13valleypoboy(75 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

So:
1. Jobs at any cost
2. Moving from one building to another one is progress????
3. AS ALWAYS with zoning changes (annexation, etc) the owner knew of the restrictions and possibilities when he bought the place (got the license).
Youngstown doesn't need another empty building.

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14golfball(15 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Poboy - It isn't like they are moving from one building that is identical to the new one. They are going to build a brand new building. No one mentions the short term jobs that come from that. The old building is just that... OLD. You people can't expect companies to stay in outdated buildings forever.

Before you blame BJ Alan you should blame the state for some of the dumbest fireworks laws in the country. I bet they would have no issue of keeping the land in Austintown if the state would let them.

The state will not issue another license for a company like BJ Alan and haven't for years. They also think it makes sense to let residents buy whatever they want from stores in the state and take their tax money, but don't think they should shoot anything off. Because of that law stores are all based on the border limiting the amount of tax money the state could get. The laws are the problem not BJ Alan.

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15Lifes2Short(3875 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

valleypoboy
1. ??? have no clue what that comment means.
2. Moving from a 2,500 square foot building to a 5,000 square foot building and making it visible and creating jobs to build the building on vacant land is progress to me, not sure why it isn't to you?
3. They put a request in 2 years ago.

And btw, Youngstown is demolishing buildings and who knows another company might lease/buy the building.

Whether you agree or not, it is a Positive for Youngstown...especially in these times.

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