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1999-12-24
Oakville, Ontario. Home Depot Loses Appeal

Oakville already has a Home Depot, so don't feel too bad for the Atlanta-based retailer. They won't have a 2nd store in Oakville -- at least not on North Service Road. In a strongly-worded 10 page decision, the Ontario Municipal Board has rejected Home Depot's appeal of a town decision not to allow an amendment to the Town's Official Plan that would have changed an industrial zone to permit retailing. . Home Depot wanted to build a huge store adjacent to a large residential development known as the Glen Abbey Community. Unfortunately for Home Depot, they picked 11 acres of land in a Prestige Industrial district, which allows only light industrial or warehouse facilities. The zoning allows retail as an ancillary use, but only up to 40% of the gross leasable area, with the remaining 60% devoted to warehousing or industry. Home Depot actually tried to argue that its store was similar to a traditional warehouse. Instead of being split in the familiar manner, with retailing at the front of the building, and warehousing at the back, Home Depot said its retailing took place on the ground floor, and the warehousing occurred on a vertical basis -- that the shelving racks served as the "warehouse" part of the store! The OMB ruled that a Home Depot "has the look of a warehouse, however, it does not function as a warehouse type of use." The Board said Home Depot "is a retail store that sells home improvement products within a large warehouse type building". The Oakville Official Plan limits retail use to 40% of floor area, so Home Depot "is not appropriate for this location." The Board also found that Home Depot did not enhance the existing industrial park, because it would "create pressure for future retail intrusion" into the industrial area. "The proposal does not strengthen the viability of the industrial area," the Board wrote, "which is a prime objective of the plan." The Board also noted the strong opposition to the project by the neighboring residents, but the Board said that because the Home Depot was not consistent with "the principles of good planning" (since it violated the local Official Plan), the traffic and possible impacts on residential property were unnecessary to deal with. The OMB decision comes roughly one year after the battle for Oakville began. Unfortunately, the Mayor of Oakville is willing to help Home Depot find another location "that won't interfere with a residential area". But for now, the headline in the Abbey Oaks News says it nicely: "No Home Depot".

What you can do: This government board ruling is a strong vindication for a town's local Official Plan. Home Depot made it clear to local officials that it was not prepared to amend the size and prototype of its store, but instead wanted Oakville to change its Official Plan and zoning ordinance. When the town refused, Home Depot, the good neighbor company, appealed to a higher authority -- and got shot down. But Oakville had to spend tax dollars to mount a legal defense, and Home Depot's arguments about being a warehouse on top of a retail store bordered on the hallucinatory. As one Town Councillor in Oakville said, this ruling showed that the town has "a right to our own determination, and that our Official Plan is defendable." For a copy of the Oakville decision, contact info@sprawl-busters.com










 
 
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