BOARDMAN — Township zoning commissioners unanimously rejected a request to rezone two parcels across from the future home of Meijer on Lockwood Boulevard, citing concerns about traffic and commercialization.
Meijer Stores Ltd. requested that two parcels at the corner of Lockwood Boulevard and Tippecanoe Road — which are currently zoned residential and business — be rezoned commercial, so the grocery chain could build a gas station. Meijer has not yet purchased the approximately 2.5-acre plot. There is a house on each parcel and a gas well on the parcel zoned for business.
In June 2019, Meijer Stores Ltd. purchased 39 acres at the intersection of Lockwood Boulevard and U.S. Route 224 for $4 million to erect a 157,000-square-foot store.
Meijer Real Estate Manager Chris Jones explained at a Zoning Commission meeting Tuesday that a deed restriction on the Lockwood Boulevard property prevents the company from building a gas station on the parcel.
The proposed gas station would include a 3,300-square-foot structure and two islands with six gas pumps, or 12 nozzles.
Jones claimed that the company is pursuing a zone change for the residential property to create a larger buffer between the gas station and the other homes on Lockwood Boulevard.
Township Road Superintendent Marilyn Kenner, who lives on Lockwood Boulevard, disputed that claim, noting that a vocal opponent of the project owns the second parcel zoned residential.
"Don't continue to make the same mistake by zoning that parcel commercial or you will continue the commercial creep down Lockwood," said Kenner, "We need to protect our neighborhood. We need to protect our residents."
Commissioners agreed with Kenner, noting that building a gas station across the street from the future store could exacerbate traffic.
"God forbid someone gets hurt or killed in that intersection," said commission chairman Peter Lymber.
The commissioners' decision will be referred to Boardman trustees.
But, as Lymber pointed out at the end of the meeting, the commission's rejection is just a recommendation.
"Meijer has had better luck with the trustees than the zoning commission," said Lymber.
The trustees can overturn the rejection with a majority vote.
The 39-acre property Meijer purchased in June consists of a 22-acre conservation easement that cannot be developed. The size of the easement increased from 17 acres in exchange for adding three acres to the portion that is zoned commercial.
The zoning commission initially rejected the grocery chain's request to increase the portion zoned commercial but township trustees later approved the change in exchange for increasing a conservation easement.
"As I understand it, this is a recommending board, so we still have the option to proceed with the trustees and take up our case with the trustees. But we'll talk about it internally before we make that decision," Jones said after the meeting.
The decision will not affect the company's plan to break ground on the new store next month, said Jones.