A referendum on the zone change is still a possibility
Company drafts pact with Ohio EPA to protect donated land
By Jordyn Grzelewski
TJX Companies Inc. is moving forward with plans to establish a buffer zone between nearby residences and a 1.2 million-square-foot HomeGoods distribution center the company plans to build on a 290-acre site on Ellsworth Bailey and Hallock Young roads.
A company representative provided an update on those plans to village council at a meeting Monday, saying the company has drafted a covenant agreement with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency that would govern the conservation of at least 100 acres the company plans to donate.
Mark Walker, HomeGoods vice president of real estate, told council the company is in talks with Western Reserve Land Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicating to conserving natural resources in Northeast Ohio.
Under current plans, the organization would hold a conservation easement that would protect the land from any development. TJX then plans to deed the land over to Trumbull County MetroParks so it could be put to public use.
Alex Czayka of Western Reserve Land Conservancy said such an agreement would protect the land from residential and commercial activity, as well as timbering.
Asked about oil and gas activity on the land, Walker said TJX is working with the current easement holder to cease activity there and write into the covenant that future oil and gas drilling not be permitted.
He said the current timetable for establishing the buffer is September or October.
“We have the right people in place. We have the right purpose,” Walker said. “I think we can do something very nice here.”
That time frame is after an August special election that will occur if residents collect enough signatures for a referendum on the zone changes council approved for the project.
Residents have until week’s end to collect 124 signatures on each of seven zone changes. Council voted 3-2 last month to rezone the site from residential to industrial, a change some village residents opposed.
Earlier Monday, area legislators and Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill hosted a news conference to talk about the proposed buffer.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, state Sen. Sean O’Brien of Bazetta, D-32nd, and state Reps. Michael O’Brien of Warren D-64th and Glenn Holmes of McDonald, D-63rd, were in attendance.
“We’re here to let [the public] know we feel very confident this will be taken care of,” Ryan said of the buffer.
In a statement released after the council meeting, HomeGoods spokesman Andrew Mastrangelo said the company was “pleased” to provide council with an update on its plans, “especially as it relates to our commitment to permanently donate a minimum of 100 acres of the land to be maintained as a natural buffer or conservation space.
“We hope that our engagement with the Ohio EPA, Trumbull County MetroParks, and Western Reserve Land Conservancy reiterates our commitment to donate this land as part of our proposed plans to develop this land responsibly,” Mastrangelo said. “We continue to believe our project will be mutually beneficial and bring many economic benefits to Lordstown and the Mahoning Valley, including at least 1,000 jobs, opportunities for local college students, and financial support for the Lordstown Local School District. We look forward to becoming a contributing member of the community.”
The company has committed to donating $500,000 to the school district, and Walker said the company has been in talks with local colleges about establishing internship opportunities and campus recruiting.