Button, button, who’s going to Sutton? Home Depot has been playing a game of eeney, meeney, miney, mo with the nearby towns of Shrewsbury and Sutton in central Massachusetts. Residents in both towns are up in arms against a proposed Home Depot ‘cross docking facility’, otherwise known as a distribution center. Home Depot first took its plans to Shrewsbury, where it gained the approval of the Planning Board and the Conservation Commmission. But the company also picked up a lawsuit at each stop, as angry citizens brought legal action to stop the 153,840 square foot facility. Shortly after filing in Shrewsbury, Home Depot began the permitting process in nearby Sutton, in effect playing both towns off the middle. In Sutton, Home Depot filed for a 149,000 s.f. distribution center. Since it didn’t need two such monsters located in close proximity, it was obvious that one application was going to get pulled. Although the paperwork is not official, the Worcester Telegram-Gazette reported yesterday that Home Depot was gone from Shrewsbury, and quoted the company’s real estate manager as saying: “Where we are is we’re committed to Sutton,” The decision was made, apparently, on the basis of the Sutton site’s proximity to major highways, like the Massachusetts Turnpike, and was not related to Shrewsbury residents’ opposition to the plan, the company asserted. “When you’re going to put in a distribution center, it has to be able to get fast access to major roads,” he said. “Pretty much one exit up.. you’ve got access literally to all of New England.” But the two lawsuits filed in Shrewsbury could have threatened “fast access” to markets for Home Depot, by pulling the project into court for a year or longer. Activists in Sutton have promised Home Depot will get the same kind of treatment in their home town. “First Shrewsbury, and then Sutton will be the next to be crossed off,” one Sutton resident told the newspaper. Home Depot, meanwhile, claims their distribution center will mean 250 jobs and an $8 million payroll. “This is a huge shot in the arm to the economy of Sutton,” the company claims, without presenting any impact study that looks at the net impact such facilities have on the existing building supply market, and similar supply chains already in place for other hardware stores. Residents in Shrewsbury who opposed the plan are delighted that the hammer has been lifted from their town, and already are talking about how to come uo with a “higher use” for the land Home Depot walked away from, like an office or research facility. The Shrewsbury Planning Board on June 7th. gave Home Depot approval for their site plan, with a list of 30 minor conditions. But residents in the tiny town of Sutton know that this facility has the potential to change the character of their community forever. The cross-docking “warehouse” will have 299 trailer spaces, and 153 docking doors. Shot in the arm for Sutton, or shot in the head? For homeowners near the facility, approval for Home Depot could mean the destruction of any resale value of their home. The project is so out of scale with the rest of Sutton, that it would stand out like Jimmy Durante’s nose.
Residents in Sutton are talking to an attorney, and legal action against Home Depot’s plans are likely. Sutton residents hope that Home Depot will abandon this site also, making the score two for two in central Massachusetts. For more details on the Sutton/Shrewsbury battles against the “What’s Up Dock?” plans of Home Depot, contact [email protected]