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2002-12-22
Lacey, NJ. Residents Buy Billboard to Oppose Home Depot.

Lacey, NJ. A developer from Philadelphia has uncovered a deep well of resentment against a proposed Home Depot store on Route 9. PREIT Services, has submitted a plan for 35 acres of land to the Lacey, New Jersey Planning Board, calling for a 7 store complex, including what residents say is a 142,047 s.f. Wal-Mart and next to it a 116,206 s.f. Home Depot. On December 9th, the Planning Board, at a hearing not open for public comment, approved putting the Home Depot plan before a series of public hearings. Opponents at the hearing held up "Just Say No" signs during the session. The Planning board members have been instructed not to accept petitions, read mail or accept telephone calls about the Home Depot project during the application process. The Board expects to hear the case sometime in February, and must rule on a number of variances requested by the developer. This small community is dependent on one large property tax generator, the Oyster Creek Generating Station, and local officials superficially see the Home Depot/Wal-Mart project as a cash cow for "ratables". But an opposition group has packed the hearing rooms, and set up a website: www.nohomedepot.us. Opponents have circulated a petition with over 2,000 signatures, and placed an anti-Home Depot billboard on Lacey Road. Residents point out that the area already is saturated with Home Depots, and say the company's interest in Lacey is only a counter-measure against the incursion of rival Lowe's into the New York/New Jersey area. Lacey was clearly not in the first or second tier of choices for Home Depot real estate planners. Home Depot spokesman John Simley told the media: "The plan now is to start informing people of exactly what the economic advantages are. The bottom line is we're looking at some 150 jobs created. We're not the cause of development, we are simply a reaction to it,'' he added. The fact is, we are NOT looking at some 150 jobs -- since Simley is not counting the jobs that will be lost elsewhere in the Lacey region as existing merchants go out of business: as in Rickels, Home Base, Hechinger's, Grossman's,. etc. Regina Discenza of Lacey has been spearheading an effort for home towns, not Home Depot. "We are going to be picketing every opportunity we get,'' Discenza promised. "I watched Home Depot destroy my neighborhood in Staten Island, and I'm not going to let that happen here.'' Discenza was quoted by the Asbury Park Press as saying: "Turn up your hearing aids and clean your glasses. The residents of this town have said time and time again, no new development. And we mean it." Another neighbor said the problem with Home Depot is its size: "It just won't fit (here). It's like putting a 10-pound salami in a 5-pound sack.'' Home Depot, which hopes to open 200 stores this year, wants to have the Lacey store open by next fall. Home Depot says the Lacey store is to "relieve some of the pressure on our existing stores" in Manahawkin and Toms River.



What you can do: According to a recent business report, Home Depot's stock is down 50% this year, the company is reducing its full-time workforce, and it is facing battles like this one in Lacey, that could seriously delay the company's timetable. Opponents of the Lacey Home Depot and Wal-Mart plan are asking sprawl-busters to write a letter of opposition to: Mayor Louis Amato, Township Of Lacey, Municipal Building, 818 W. Lacey Rd., Forked River NJ 08731 (Phone# 609-693-1100) And to Louis D'Arienzo, Lacey Director of Community Development, same address. Regina Discenza can be reached at regdiscenza@juno.com.










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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