“Home Depot will be a detriment to the city.” That was the opinion of Dave Baker, owner of the Stow-Glen Retirement Community, which is located directly to the east of a Home Depot proposed for the city of Stow, Ohio. The City Council held at three and a half hour hearing this week on the controversial rezoning. There are already Home Depot stores in nearby Macedonia and Chapel Hill, and residents say they just don’t need more sprawl. To push its way into Stow, Home Depot must get 5 out of 7 members on the City Council to vote to rezone nearly 20 acres of land that is currently classified residential. The supermajority vote is needed, because under Stow’s zoning code, if the city’s Planning Commission rejects a plan, it needs the extra votes to overturn their decision. The Planning commission has already given Home Depot thumbs down. According to the Stow Sentry newspaper, many retail stores in the city already are empty, and many residents feel taht another huge store will lead to more vacancies, more traffic congestion, and more required city services. The city’s own planning department reported that a consultant reviewing the project found that Stow would spend more money on services for a large retail store than it would get in business taxes. Home Depot, defending its move to change residential zoning, says it contacted the local Kmart and tenants in two other shopping centers to see if any of them would sell out to Home Depot — but no one was willing. “We really want to be here,” a Home Depot spokesman said, and the neighbors really don’t want them to be here. The City Council gets the final say, with the decision not expected until its September meeting. If the Council were to vote to rezone, residents can sue the city, and throw the Home Depot timetable totally off-schedule.
The Stow comprehensive land use plan calls for the land in question to be zoned commercial along a strip, and residential along a back section, which is closest to existing residential property. Under the Home Depot drawings, the store’s rear would be only 200 feet from a residential neighborhood. Many communities across the country have complained that huge warehouse stores make lousy neighbors to residential communities. So Home Depot has to go in Stow. For the names of contact people in Stow fighting off Home Depot, contact [email protected]