Petition drive could put brakes on O’Reilly Auto project



A petition drive could throw a wrench into plans for an O’Reilly Auto Parts store on state Rt. 58.

If the Lorain County Board of Elections certifies the signatures, the project would be be delayed until a referendum goes on the ballot next November, interim city manager Sal Talarico told city council members Monday. Talarico said 350 of the 405 signatures turned in to his office would have to be valid for certification to occur.

The project entails a 7,453-square-foot store to be located next to an Advance Auto Parts store near the US 20 intersection. The referendum calls for voters to decide on rezoning approved by council and the planning commission last month.

Council and commission members rezoned the site from an office district to a planned highway/commercial district.

Some voted no because Advance Auto wouldn’t agree to share its driveway with O’Reilly. Dissenters said they were concerned an extra driveway would increase the chance of crashes in the area where the speed limit is 50 mph.

Mark Chesler, who owns Anchors Aweigh, a business located across the street from the proposed O’Reilly site, helped gather petition signatures for Oberlin Citizens for Responsible Development. Chesler, a Henrietta Township resident, said the 405 signers represented a good cross section of Oberlin.

A frequent commission critic, he said the Ohio Department of Transportation underestimated the traffic in the area, which he believes the store would increase. He said petition organizers want to preserve the office district zoning designation and limit the number of auto stores and gas stations in the area.

“We’re not trying to make it uneconomic,” said Chesler, who wasn’t at the council meeting. “You can put a restaurant or a hotel there under conditional uses.”

Bobby Deitz, project manager for Bacon, Farmer, Workman Engineering & Testing, the Kentucky-based firm that represents O’Reilly, previously said the store would probably open within nine to 12 months of the approval. He said it would only add about 10 more cars at its peak hour in the evening.

Deitz said by phone Monday that O’Reilly hasn’t bought the property yet and he’s uncertain what effect the referendum would have on the project.

“I’m sure they’re going to be terribly disappointed,” he said.

Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.