Referendum on TJX zone changes will be on ballot
Special election set for Aug. 21
By Jordyn Grzelewski
It will now be up to village voters to decide whether council made the right decision in rezoning residential land to industrial for construction of a HomeGoods distribution center.
A group that opposes council’s 3-2 vote to rezone 290 acres on Ellsworth Bailey and Hallock Young Road collected enough signatures to get the issue on the ballot for a referendum, the Trumbull County Board of Elections reported Friday.
The group had to submit seven petitions, one for each of the seven zone changes, with 124 valid signatures each. The group ended up collecting 1,141 signatures, 1,107 of which were deemed valid.
The referendum will be on the ballot during a special election, the date of which was pushed up from November to Aug. 21 by state legislation designed to expedite the process.
Council last month approved the zone changes, which were requested by TJX Companies Inc. The company plans to build a 1.2 million-square-foot, $160 million HomeGoods distribution center there that it says will create 1,000 jobs within 10 years.
Some village residents are opposed to the project locating on land that was zoned residential, and on the possible impact on nearby residences.
Village Mayor Arno Hill, however, is a supporter of the project and said Friday he hopes the referendum fails.
“Where’s GM going to be in a few years?,” he said of the General Motors plant located in the village, which recently went down to one shift. “If they go the wrong way, which I hope they don’t, we have to be prepared for the future.”
Hill said TJX has been responsive to concerns raised by the community. For example, in response to some of the comments, the company promised to donate 100 of the 290 acres to be placed into a conservation easement and potentially deeded over to Trumbull County MetroParks.
“I do believe this company is willing to bend over backwards. Any discussions I’ve had with them, they’ve been positive,” Hill said. “I hope the referendum goes down, and I hope it goes down” by a wide margin.
As for whether the outcome of the referendum will put an end to efforts to stop the project from happening at that site, Hill said, “Especially if it’s a big vote-down. I would hope they’d see the writing on the wall. I’m just waiting for Aug. 22.”