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For nearly six years, Woodie Goodnight has benefited from his highly visible location at the corner of S.R. 44 and Tallmadge Road in Rootstown where his restaurant, Angelo's Pizzeria, is located.
Now, he fears the Ohio Department of Transportation's plans to upgrade the intersection could put him out of business. He's heard that others in the area, including a church, might also be affected.
Goodnight plans to be one of the residents paying close attention to ODOT's public meeting on the project, which takes place from 5 to 7 pm. on Thursday at Rootstown Elementary School.
ODOT is hosting an "open house public involvement meeting" to solicit public comment on proposed improvements to the intersection. Plans include installing a new southbound right turn lane, lengthening a southbound left turn lane, and replacing an existing traffic light.
"If they do anything out there, it's going to affect this property," said Goodnight, whose business is only a few feet from the edge of the road now.
Six years ago, Goodnight, who had a mobile food service business, bought the existing pizza shop, and parked a huge grill outside. He continues to serve food at outdoor events in Kent, Ravenna, Nelson, Edinburg and other nearby towns, and wants to stay in Rootstown in order to remain centrally located.
But the kinds of licenses he needs to keep his business going aren't easily moved, and he estimates that it would take at least $200,000 in upgrades to convert an existing storefront to accommodate his needs.
He's frustrated because ODOT officials haven't come out to talk to him personally, and says he gets more information from utility contractors than from ODOT. He's known the project is coming "one way or another" for about a year, but has never been given a clear timeline.
A few months ago, Goodnight proposed a new building for his business just down the street. The township's zoning board turned down his plans, saying they weren't in keeping with the "Western Reserve" appearance of the downtown. Then, he said, the same board approved plans for a Dunkin Donuts franchise on the property next to his proposed site.
"We do a lot for the community," he said. "I would hate to see that go away."