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2002-11-04
Somerville, MA. Home Depot developer offers $2 M to citizens to drop case.

How much is it worth to someone to stop a Home Depot? A developer in Somerville, Massachusetts found out its worth a lot more than they thought. The Assembly Square Limited Partnership, which has been trying to push a Home Depot off on unhappy residents, offered a local activist $2 million to drop her lawsuit against the developer. Louana Evarts, whose home abuts the Home Depot proposal, refused to drop her legal case even when offered $2 million dollars. "It felt like a bribe," Evarts told the Boston Globe. "They weren't offering anything but money. My conscience would bother me if I took $2 million and let an unlawful development proceed. Getting this development right is very important to me." In September, a Judge in Middlesex Superior Court agreed with the Evarts lawsuit, which said that the Somerville Planning Board was required to hold public hearings and an environmental impact review. The judge threw the case back to the Somerville plannning board, asking them to reconsider their previous approval of a permit for the Home Depot. A citizens group called the Mystic View Task Force, has been opposing this project for nearly two years. The group's lawyer, Art Kreiger, said they want a "high-value, mixed use development, not a big box store." When the developer originally approached the city, it was with a 353,450 s.f. development that included a Kmart, Home Depot, Borders Books, Stapled, and Linens N' Things. But that monster was too big for residents to tolerate, and the developer scaled it down. But the Home Depot remained. So deep is Evarts' conviction, that she turned down the chance to become rich at the expense of her neighborhood and city. The developer said it was "disappointed" that Evarts did not accept "this offer." It is probably unusual for developers to find themselves negotiating with someone who has a conscience.

What you can do: For more background on the Home Depot in Somerville, search this data base by "Somerville" and "Mystic River." I had the honor to speak at one of the events planned by the MVTF opposing the Home Depot. For local contacts, email me at info@sprawl-busters.com










 
 
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