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1998-12-06
Roanoke County, Va. Home Depot's Media Front.

Just who are the Cave Springs Business Owners? That's the question Channel 10 in Roanoke, VA set out to answer. After media ads started being aired in the county area promoting a rezoning vote for a Home Depot store -- ads sponsored by a group calling itself the Cave Springs Business Owners -- Channel 10 tried to find out who was being the ads. The TV station says they spoke to "over a dozen" business owners in the Cave Springs area, and none of them had a clue about the radio ads touting Home Depot. As one owner said: "Don't know a thing about them. It may be one person, for all I know." The massive media blitz, it turns out, was being purchased by an Roanoke attorney named Mike Cleary. Cleary told Channel 10 that there were 2 other people in the group sponsoring the ads. These others happened to be the 2 people who own the land that Home Depot wants to build on, and the owners stand to make more than $5 million on the land deal. Home Depot reportedly already has 2 stores in the county, and is trying for a 3rd in the Cave Springs area. The Roanoke County Supervisors initially voted to reject a rezoning request from Home Depot, but later, without a public hearing, reversed their decision. After considerable public outcry, the Supervisors decided to hold another vote on the matter, and ultimately voted 3-2 to approve Home Depot's rezoning. Despite media ads urging residents in favor of Home Depot to turn out at the hearing, very few Depot supporters came to the Supervisor's meeting. Instead, more than 300 opponents to the plan packed the County Administrative Building. Home Depot told the Supervisors that the land they wanted, which was NOT zoned commercially, was "the only suitable site we've found." Cave Springs Citizens raised concerns about the traffic congestion the project would cause, and the negative impact on property values. Channel 10 called the use of the media ads as "some unusual tactics." The Home Depot proposal for Electric Rd has electrified local residents into action, and has become, according to TV reports, "the hottest debate in Roanoke County." Cave Springs citizens have filed a lawsuit against the County Supervisor's decision.

What you can do: Readers of this website will not be surprised to see Home Depot proponents engaged in a public deception. Landowners, developers, and their attorneys, often resort to such public affairs attempts to make it look as if there is wide-spread support for Home Depot. In this case, it was a local lawyer and landowners paying for the commercials. The so-called Cave Springs Business owners was an "astro-turf" group formed by the applicant seeking the rezoning. For further information about the Home Depot battle in Roanoke, VA, contact: Mark Petersen at 540-362-7141.










 
 
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