Trumbull commissioners to OEPA: Don't delay HomeGoods
By Ed Runyan
The Trumbull County commissioners have written a letter to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency asking it to refrain from taking any action that would “further delay” the start of construction of the TJX/HomeGoods warehouse project in Lordstown.
Specifically, the commissioners asked that the OEPA not have a public hearing regarding environmental issues, saying the company provided a 130-acre buffer zone with a conservation easement “to forever protect the natural resources of this land.”
The commissioners also approved a resolution at Wednesday’s meeting, saying the project “has already been delayed for many months.”
The Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber encouraged the letter-writing campaign and has sent assistance to other entities to encourage them to also write a letter, said Sarah Boyarko, chief operating officer for the Regional Chamber.
The letter-writing follows a legal notice the OEPA published in a local newspaper regarding the application HomeGoods made for a water-quality certification for the 1.2 million-square-foot project at Hallock-Young and Ellsworth Bailey roads near the General Motors Lordstown complex.
The notice says copies of the application are available on the OEPA website and asks that anyone interested in submitting written comments to the OEPA or who wants the OEPA to have a public hearing to notify the agency by about March 1.
Boyarko said she opposes a public OEPA meeting because it “will further delay this important investment.”
Further, she says such a meeting is not needed because HomeGoods “has been more than willing to accommodate the requests of the residents, as well as addressing their concerns.”
The facility also will drain into a 4-acre pond that meets the village’s requirements, and HomeGoods will install an earthen berm around the site at the request of the residents.
The site HomeGoods chose “has the least amount of impact to natural resources, including wetlands” of the Mahoning Valley sites HomeGoods considered, Boyarko said.
Arno Hill, Lordstown mayor, was in Columbus on Wednesday with the Drive It Home Ohio campaign that is working to save the GM Lordstown Assembly Complex, but he said by phone he’s heard of people talking about the need for an EPA hearing and believes it’s a “delay tactic.”
Hill said last month he’s hopeful village council will give approval to the HomeGoods site plans March 4 and enable HomeGoods to break ground.
The commissioners also Wednesday approved a $48.1 million general-fund budget for 2019, which is about $100,000 less than the 2018 budget.
Few departments saw significant changes in the amount they were budgeted compared with 2018, said Debbie Santangelo, deputy county auditor.
The estimated amount of sales taxes expected to be received in 2019 is $24.7 million, which is about $500,000 less than the $25.2 million received in 2018.