No TRO after hearing on Lordstown TJX referendum

WARREN — A hearing in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court on a request by opponents of a planned TJX project in Lordstown for a temporary restraining order did not result in one being granted.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs, which include Lordstown resident Brett Dickson and about two dozen other residents who live near the project site, and for Lordstown and the state of Ohio argued before Judge Peter Kontos today.

The judge did not take any action today, but set a Tuesday deadline for both sides to submit proposed orders and any follow-up briefs. A ruling on the requested TRO is expected after that. The judge also set a Sept. 11 hearing on the plaintiffs’ request for a permanent injunction.

In the complaint filed this week, the plaintiffs argue that sections of House Bill 292 related to a referendum on zone changes for the project are unconstitutional.

The special election took place Tuesday, and the referendum passing with 77 percent of the vote.

The defendants argued against numerous aspects of the complaint. Among their points was the timing of the lawsuit.

“Now that these landowners have lost [the referendum], they’re backpedaling,” said Matthew Ries (OK), representing the village. “They should have filed this lawsuit 45 days ago. It’s too late. The election is over. The people have spoken.”

State Sen. Sean O’Brien of Bazetta, D-32nd, who helped write the sections of HB 292 that expedited the referendum, said state legislators vetted the bill thoroughly on the constitutional issues cited by the plaintiffs.

“It clearly meets the constitutional test,” he said.

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