CONNEAUT — After several years of legal fights, an auto parts store has finally opened its doors on Route 20 in Conneaut.
O’Reilly Auto Parts opened the morning of Sept. 28, said Dan Dana, the store’s manager.
Since the doors opened, business has been steady, Dana said.
An O’Reilly was first suggested on the site in Feb. 2017, but a legal case filed by a resident ended with a judgment against the city and the developer.
The city reviewed its zoning code after the legal case and passed a review of the code, under which the developer could apply again.
At the time, city officials stressed that the move was not an attempt to circumvent the ruling.
“I want to make it very clear that an ordinance cannot ‘undo’ a court decision,” Conneaut Law Director Kyle Smith said in a statement. “A court decision cannot be changed or altered by the passage of a new ordinance which sets a different zoning standard. However, if an ordinance changes a zoning standard, creating a new standard, any person — including O’Reilly’s — can apply for a zoning permit under the new standard and, if appealed, a court would generally apply the new standard.”
Eventually, after negotiations between O’Reilly’s corporate offices and the city, permission was given.
“We worked very closely with the city and the zoning commission. (We’ve) had several back-and-forths over the last couple years to get the plans and specs the city has asked for,” said Mark Merz, vice president of Investor Relations at O’Reilly, in July.
Several abandoned houses sat on the site of the store and were demolished earlier this year.
Construction began near the beginning of summer.
The response from the public since the store opened had been almost entirely positive, Dana said. There may be opening specials in the future, but the details are still being ironed out, he said.
Dana said the opening of the store is a good thing.
“There’s definitely a place for it,” he said.