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Meijer brings opportunities for jobs, growth

It’s no secret that Boardman provides many retail outlets, commerce opportunities and restaurants, many along the busy U.S. Route 224 corridor and its side streets.

With those businesses comes routine heavy congestion. It’s been that way for decades.

These days, however, we are hearing increasing reports about closures of brick-and-mortar stores, triggering reduced opportunities to go shopping in a local store rather than on a computer screen. That also means lost opportunities to touch fabrics, smell the scents, try on clothes and compare different colors in which products are offered.

Many of us regularly bemoan the loss of those opportunities — not to mention the loss of retail jobs that come with them.

That’s why we are disappointed at the pushback that has come with plans by Meijer Inc. to bring a superstore to Boardman, coupled with its gas

station.

The company is planning to invest about $20 million to build a 159,000-square-foot store on U.S. Route 224, which will employ about 250 people. Construction could begin this year, with the store opening in 2021, and Meijer wants to include fuel in its new venture.

Last month, the Boardman Township Zoning Board heard objections from neighbors concerned with a requested zone change on the two parcels of land near the intersection of Lockwood Boulevard and Tippecanoe Road and ultimately voted to deny the zone change. One of the two parcels is a rental property zoned for business, and the other is residential. Meijer is requesting both be changed to commercial for the proposed gas station.

It is expected, however, that trustees will have the final say sometime this month.

It was about a year and a half ago when some residents also raised concerns about traffic flow and protested proposed zoning changes of 4 acres out of 17 the retailer wanted to develop for its proposed Boardman store.

At that time Boardman trustees sided with the Mahoning County Planning Commission, granting approval for the zone change, clearing the way for the store’s construction.

The developer will be obligated to comply with plans calling for 22 acres to be set aside as a conservation easement and buffer between Lockwood residential areas. Meijer also must comply with landscape, buffers, traffic upgrades and storm water regulations.

Meijer officials studied potential growth areas closely before selecting this Boardman Township acreage. Clearly, they want to be here. Let’s not discourage them!

We understand the balance elected officials must maintain between development and conservation. And we understand some of the concerns raised by residents when new development is pending.

However, we also know that new development, commitments for brick-and-mortar retail stores and especially the chance to add some 250 new jobs are opportunities that should not be disregarded lightly.

We encourage Boardman trustees to realize the opportunity that could be lost with a “no” vote to requested zone changes.

We hope they vote affirmatively, allowing the project to move forward.

editorial@tribtoday.com