TJX also gets incentive from port authority to save sales taxes


By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

LORDSTOWN

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency gave water-quality certification to the HomeGoods Lordstown Distribution Center project Tuesday, one of the final approvals the company needs before scheduling a groundbreaking as early as next month.

“We can see the finish line. With the EPA approval and hopefully the Army Corps, we believe this project will be completed,” said State Sen. Sean O’Brien of Bazetta, D-32nd.

The next step is a similar approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but the Army Corps generally follows the recommendation of the OEPA, O’Brien said.

“I’m glad we knocked another step out of the way,” Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill said of the approval.

James Dignan, president of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, said it will take another four to six weeks to learn whether the Corps has granted approval.

HomeGoods plans to build a 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse on about 145 acres of a 300-acre site along Ellsworth Bailey Road across from the General Motors Lordstown Assembly Complex.

About 133 of the other acres are going into a conservancy that will protect the land and provide a buffer between the warehouse and residential areas. The warehouse will employ about 1,000 people when fully operational in several years.

Dignan attended Tuesday’s meeting of the Western Reserve Port Authority, which approved an incentive called a capital lease that will save HomeGoods about $3 million in sales taxes on construction materials. The project is expected to cost $140 million to $170 million.

A capital lease is an economic-development tool available to port authorities under Ohio law in which the authority takes temporary ownership of the property during construction, thereby eliminating sales taxes.

It’s a tool the authority has used for many projects in recent years as a way to attract investment in Trumbull and Mahoning counties and keep companies here, said Anthony Trevena, port authority economic development director.

Last month, the authority approved a capital lease for Trailstar International for its $9.3 million, 66,300-square-foot manufacturing facility expansion at its state Route 62 facilities in Mahoning County, near Alliance.

Trevena said these kinds of incentives are sometimes the only reason a company picks the Mahoning Valley to build or expand. Trumbull County receives 1 percent of the revenue from the county’s 6.75 percent sales tax. The state gets the other 5.75 percent. The port authority met at the DeBartolo Stadium Club at Youngstown State University.

The commissioners from Mahoning and Trumbull counties attended the meeting, which included a summary of all the authority’s current projects.

In a news release announcing the approval, the OEPA said the certification allows the discharge of dredged or fill material into streams and wetlands during the project’s construction phase.

Discharges from the project will impact wetlands and degrade the water quality of streams within the Duck Creek watershed. TJX Companies will offset these impacts with the restoration and enhancement of two streams adjacent to the property, the purchase of stream and wetland mitigation credits in other areas and the preservation of about 133 acres of forested woodland adjacent to the development.

Issuance of the OEPA certification can be appealed to the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission, the OEPA said. Appeals generally must be filed within 30 days of the issuance of the certification.

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