Lordstown residents vocal about HomeGoods proposal

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Home Goods Facility

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Hundreds attended at meeting in Lordstown about a proposed Home Goods facility that could employ 1,000.

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HomeGoods proposed Distribution Center

Donning his “I yell because I care” sweatshirt, Ray Kovac walked into the Lordstown community meeting Monday evening prepared to voice his opinion about the potential development of a HomeGoods distribution center in the village.

The $160 million, 290-acre development on Ellsworth Bailey Road is right by his property on Hallock-Young Road and he’s concerned the value of his property and others will drop.

“They should keep everything in the industrial areas,” he said.

Kovac was one of hundreds of residents to attend the meeting with representatives of HomeGoods, a division of TJX Companies Inc., which owns Marshalls and T.J. Maxx stores. Officials with the company stayed after their presentation, which included frustrated groans from the crowd, to answer people’s questions one-on-one.

Many in the crowd are concerned about traffic, the effect on property values and the overall disruption to the residential area from the distribution center.

Two pieces of land where the warehouse would be built have to be rezoned from residential to industrial before construction can start, but HomeGoods would like to have the site ready by 2020. Construction would take about a year and a half.

The company needs the distribution center here to service its growth. It would employ 1,000 to service 300 stores in the Northeast and Midwest.

Joe Dubord, senior vice president of distribution services for HomeGoods, told the crowd the company has worked on finding a location for this center for two years.

At least five states and more than 12 communities were looked at for the project. Some of the factors that HomeGoods looked at for the site included: proximity to the stores it would service and a viable workforce.

“We think we have found it here,” Dubord said.

Of the 1,000 jobs, 150 will be “professional positions,” he said. The jobs would bring $600,000 in payroll to the area every week.

Dubord stressed that the company will not lease the property, but own it.

“We are here for the long haul,” he said. “We are proud of the project. We are here and we are excited. We think you’re going to love it and if there’s anything you don’t love, we are staying until you give us an alternative or another idea. We are all for it.”

The proposed site plan includes adding traffic lights on Ellsworth Bailey Road and realigning Hallock-Young Road, since the road runs right through the site.

To build the site normally, the company needed 130 acres but wants to buy the 290 acres to make sure there’s enough vegetation to serve as a buffer between the site and the surrounding residential areas.

“It allows for responsible development,” said Mark Walker, vice president of real estate for HomeGoods. “We looked at other sites in town and didn’t have that acreage. To do proper and responsible development here we wanted a large enough site where we could maintain open area and insulation from the surrounding properties.”

Traffic into the facility will come only off of Ellsworth Bailey Road. A traffic study suggested the installation of two traffic signals on that road.

“This will allow for proper left hand turns into the site,” Walker said.

Richard Williams, a 14-year resident of Lordstown, moved to the village because of its peacefulness. He lives in the Imperial Communities development off Ellsworth Bailey Road.

“I enjoy being able to sit on my front porch. I enjoy watching the sunsets,” he said. “They put this place in and I am going to be looking at a building every time I look outside. There’s no way we can avoid not seeing that building.”

His neighbor, Cuba Adams, echoed the same thoughts.

“We are all for the jobs,” she said. “We are all for the progress. There is enough [land] that is prezoned [industrial] already. They don’t have to take a property that is zoned residential and make it an [industrial] property.”

The application for the zone changes will go to the planning commission March 21. A vote on the zone changes will take place March 26. No matter if the changes are accepted or not by the commission, they go to village council where it will take five votes to overturn the commission’s decision. The changes have to be read three times before they will be voted on by council. Councilman Ron Radtka will be excluded from the vote because he has a conflict of interest.

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