Home Depot built a 125,000 s.f. store in Clermont, Florida roughly three years ago. The project was approved with a conditional use permit, which required, among other things, that the company keep its property environment well-managed. Today, according to the Orlando Sentinel, the city is battling the home improvement chain to improve how the maintain their property. The city recently cited Home Depot with several violations, including its storage of products and materials outside its building in the parking lot. After months without no response from the retailer, Clermont’s code-enforcement board put a lien on the property that now totals nearly $72,000, and these fines are increasing at $250 a day until the dispute is resolved. City officials told the newspaper that little progress has been made, and that continued violations could lead to a revocation of Home Depot’s permit. “What we’re trying to do is gain compliance,” Mayor Hal Turville told the Sentinel. “At some point they need to comply.” The Home Depot fines are among the biggest the city has ever levied against a business. Home Depot corporate headquarters claims, as usual, that they are working on the problem. “The Home Depot takes very seriously the issues the City of Clermont has raised. We have staff, both in Orlando and Atlanta, working toward the resolution of these issues,” a public-relations manager wrote to the newspaper. City officials say Home Depot has been displaying items outside without an open-air sales permit and using parking spaces for unscreened loading and storage of pallets and boxes.
Home Depot has become the “bad boy” of big box retailers when it comes to maintaining its properties. When I was in Miami working with The Grove First citizen’s group, we toured a nearby Home Depot store that can only be described as chaotic, with an outdoor tent sale in the parking lot, trash blowing into the neighborhood, shopping carts abandoned on street corners and on sidewalks. The whole property was an eyesore and irritant to the neighborhood. The outdoor storage of products can become an environmental problem if garden chemicals and fertilizers are left out and washed into the storm sewers by rains. This story about Home Depot’s code violations is related to the Mill Creek, Utah story posted on Newsflash today as well. For earlier stories about Home Depot’s property problems, search by “Home Depot code.”