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Decision on TRO against HomeGoods project delayed to next week

Friday, August 24, 2018

WARREN

Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Peter Kontos will decide in the coming days whether to grant a temporary restraining order requested by a group of Lordstown residents who are opposed to rezoning that was approved for the construction of a TJX distribution center.

Judge Kontos presided over a hearing today on the TRO request that is part of a lawsuit filed Wednesday against the village of Lordstown and state of Ohio. The judge did not take action on the request Friday, but gave the parties until Tuesday to file proposed orders and follow-up briefs. A decision on the TRO is expected sometime after that, and the judge set a hearing Sept. 11 to consider the plaintiffs’ request for a permanent injunction.

The complaint, filed by Lordstown resident Brett Dickson and about two dozen other residents who live near the planned project site, challenges the constitutionality of two sections of House Bill 292, which Gov. John Kasich signed into law in June. Parts of the bill related to the situation in Lordstown by expediting a referendum in cases of “zoning or other changes to accommodate a new use of real property located in [a village] that the legislative authority determines is likely to bring at least 500 new jobs and at least $50 million in investment to the village” between May 15 and Sept. 1. The TJX project is a $170 million investment that is expected to create 1,000 jobs.

The legislation pushed up a special election from November to this past Tuesday, when the referendum passed with 77 percent of the vote, according to final unofficial results from the Trumbull County Board of Elections. The results will be certified Monday.

The plaintiffs argue that Sections 12 and 16 of HB 292 violate sections of the state constitution that require bills to contain a single subject and laws to “have a uniform operation throughout the state.”

Presenting on behalf of the plaintiffs Friday, Atty. David Nichol acknowledged the unpopularity of his clients’ position.

“I think the popularity of the position we’re taking [would change] if this were being built in someone else’s backyard,” he said.

Read more about the matter in Satturday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com