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2000-01-26
Englewood, NJ. Home Depot: Nailed in New Jersey

After months of trying to hammer its way into Englewood, New Jersey, Home Depot got nailed by the ears by a Texas company that made the town a better offer. In December of 1999, the Trammel Crow company offered to build a 10 story office building on the same site where a developer wanted to build a 133,000 s.f. Home Depot. "If the city of Englewood genuinely wants an alternative to retail development for the property, the Trammel Crow proposal meets all of the key criteria of issues," a company official told The Record newspaper. Trammle Crow said the office building would create 1,600 jobs and $1.2 million in tax revenue to the city, compared to Home Depot's promise of only $500,000 in revenue. The 15 acre site in contention is zoned for office use, but the city council earlier this year approved a commercial overlay zone that allowed Home Depot to submit a proposal. But at a recent Planning Board meeting, 250 angry residents showed up, and local officials responded. "I will introduce an ordinance which will effectively eliminate retail from that corridor, and ensure the residential character of our community," said Councilman Michael Wildes. Four Councilman and the Mayor told residents that they were looking into possibly eliminating retail use in the area. "It was evident to me," said the Mayor, "that residents were opposed to the Home Depot application, and the impact it would have on residential neighborhoods due to excessive traffic." On January 19th, the Council took the first step towards outlawing retail in the city's industrial section. "This project might be too intense a use on the site," said Councilman Wildes, "and will adversely affect the residential character of our community." A final hearing on the ordinance will be February 1st. The measure would rescind that portion of the rezoning overlay that permits retail establishments in the area. Home Depot has tried to rally its supporters to show up for the Council hearings, providing picket signs, baseball caps and offering the crowd turkey sandwiches and hot coffee. But all the java in Atlanta wouldn't be enough to change Councilman Wildes. "I listen to my constituents, and they are loud and clear against the Home Depot project." The Chamber of Commerce has fought the Home Depot project as well. Chamber President, and former Mayor Don Aronson says: "This store would be the worst thing to happen to downtown Englewood."

What you can do: Home Depot has been getting nailed in New Jersey. The Englewood zoning change is not the first time a community in New Jersey has changed its zoning ordinance to keep Agent Orange out of town. In 1991, Manalapan rewrote its ordinance to ban building supply stores. Home Depot took the town to court, and four years later, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in favor of the town. Last December, Home Depot pulled their plans in Mahwah after residents protested the traffic impact. In 1998, highly visible residents in Hawthorne killed a Home Depot before the first Board of Adjustment hearing. And in 1994 a Home Depot in Pequannock, New Jersey was hammered over issues of traffic, stormwater runoff, and impact on local merchants. The Record newspaper headline for the Englewood controversy said simply: "Retail Battleground: Englewood ready to spurn Home Depot."










 
 
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