TJX referendum petitions filed with Trumbull elections board


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By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

LORDSTOWN

Petitions to get a referendum on zone changes for a proposed TJX project were filed with the Trumbull County Board of Elections on Thursday.

The elections board has until Thursday to verify the validity of the signatures, but executive director Stephanie Penrose said her office could be done verifying the signatures as early as today.

A group of village residents that opposes village council’s rezoning of 290 acres on Ellsworth Bailey and Hallock Young roads collected signatures to get a referendum on the zone changes onto the ballot. State legislation that was crafted in response to the calls for a referendum expedited the process, pushing up a special election from November to Aug. 21.

Village clerk William Blank said he received petitions with 1,141 signatures Thursday and delivered them to the elections board. The elections board was sorting through the petitions and counting the signatures Thursday afternoon.

Each of the seven petitions requires 124 valid signatures, a number which represents 10 percent of village residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election. A signature is valid if it is from a village resident who is registered to vote under the proper name and his or her current address.

The rezoning of the proposed project site from residential to industrial was done at the request of TJX Companies Inc., which plans to build a 1.2 million-square-foot, $160 million HomeGoods distribution center there. The company has said the warehouse could create up to 1,000 jobs within five years of the facility opening.

While some community members support the project and its location, some village residents are opposed to the use of land that was zoned residential and have raised concerns about how the facility will affect nearby residences.

The company provided an update to council this week about its plans to donate 100 acres of the property for a buffer zone. TJX and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency have drafted a covenant agreement that would govern the conservation of the buffer area.

The company said it plans for Western Reserve Land Conservancy, a non-profit dedicated to conservation of natural resources in Northeast Ohio, to hold the conservation easement, and then plans to deed the land over to Trumbull County MetroParks.

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