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Farmer Threatens Lordstown Neighbors with a Chicken Farm if They Won't Budge on HomeGoods

photo of Lutz Farms
Farmer Harvey Lutz says the land that could have gone to HomeGoods for 'seven figures' may instead become a chicken farm, which would be more lucrative than his current sweet corn and soybean crops.

The withdrawal of a major development project in Lordstown is spurring some residents to make one more attempt to bring the project – and its promised jobs -- back to their city.

HomeGoods – a chain of home fashion stores owned by the same company as T.J. Maxx – had intended to build a distribution center across from the GM plant in Lordstown. The center was slated to bring about 1,000 jobs to the region, which is about to lose 1,300 jobs when the GM plant goes to one shift in June. But last week, the company decided to withdraw its zoning request for the 300-acre site, citing noise and traffic concerns from neighboring residents.

Now, the owner of 40 percent of the land – farmer Harvey Lutz – wants residents to know he’ll turn the land into a chicken farm if the HomeGoods deal falls through.

“I spread some manure over there purposely to let them know how ‘fowl’ it’s going to be. I feel it’s a wake-up call, too. Think things a little deeper than yourself.”

Lutz has owned the land for about 30 years. As a third-generation farmer, he says he wants to sell now to secure the future for his son and grandchildren.

HomeGoods' parent company, TJX, would not comment on whether it would consider other sites in the Mahoning Valley or reconsider the Lordstown site.

Residents in the area have organized a pro-HomeGoods rally, taking place Sunday at 1 p.m.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.