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1999-07-08
Oakville. Ontario. Home Depot's Cross Hairs.

"Maybe I'm missing something here," admitted one resident of the small Canadian town of Oakville. "But is there some amazing need for another Home Depot?" A simple enough question, considering that Oakville already has one Home Depot on Highway 5. Why would it need a second 113,000 s.f. store on 10 acres on North Service Road? When a developer approached the town last March, seeking to build on land that was zoned "prestige industrial", the Town Council said "no", and the developer appealed that decision to a higher authority, the Ontario Municipal Board. Home Depot tried to get around the zoning requirement that said 60% of the floor space in the prestige zone can be retail, but 40% reserved for warehouse. Home Depot attempted to argue that its store was really only 40% retail, with all space above the 8 foot high mark in their store used for storing merchandise. It seems that Home Depot is determined to develop this 10 acres, even though local planners say there are numerous other sites zoned for big box retail. "This location was chosen," said HD's real estate director, "as being the cross-hairs of your community." Defending its need for a second store, Home Depot pleaded that its Highway 5 store was "over capacity", and that customers were having to stand "longer in the check out line". "It is harder to keep items in stock," the Depot complained. But residents of the abutting Glen Abbey residential community weren't buying it. The "amazing need" was not self-evident. "Home Depot does not care about the community," wrote one angry citizen. "Its only interest is financial gratification. These types of stores want to annihilate the competition and have the whole market to themselves." Home Depot officials were clearly frustrated with many residents' response. "We've had two meetings," said the Home Depot rep, "and given them (residents) everything they've asked for. And that includes baffled lighting to reduce glare, no external loud speakers, and we have agreed not to cook burgers, etc. so there will be no cooking odors." The Depot also promised "massive landscaping" and high walls surrounding its garden center. The Glen Abbey Residents Association, many of whose homes back onto the site, has kept up the pressure, even after the Town Council voted unanimously against amending its Official Plan and zoning bylaws. So Home Depot has apparently taken the matter to the Ontario Municipal Board. A pre-hearing date has not been set by the OMB.

What you can do: I would have thought that the "no burgers" pledge would have been enough to win over neighbors. Even the "massive" landscaping sounds worth bargaining for. But the scariest thing of all is what Home Depot's Canadian President told the Toronto Star in an interview recently: "When I sleep," said Annette Verschuren, "I dream about Home Depot" Right now, its the homeowners in Glen Abbey who are having bad dreams about a company the press in Canada have referred to as "Agent Orange." For further information about the Oakville fight to keep out Home Depot, contact sandelow@cgocable.net










 
 
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