Residents in Hadley, Massachusetts, a town that has just about every corporate retail logo you can think of lined up along the Route 9 corridor, has apparently drawn the line when it comes to a new Lowe’s home improvement store. Voters last week at an open town meeting failed by 2 votes to give the retailer the 2/3rds. vote it needed to rezone 12 acres of land from agricultural to commercial. The land Lowe’s wants is currently the Long Hollow Bison Farm. 302 residens voted to rezone the land, 154 voted no, falling 2 votes short of the 304 votes supermajority needed to rezone the back portion of the property. The vote does not stop Lowe’s altogether, however, it just means the project has to be built on the front part of the land, closer to Route 9. This rejection is the second in a row for Lowe’s. In August, town meeting voters also rejected rezoning the land by a vote of 368 yes, 235 no. That first vote fell 34 votes shy of the 2/3rds approval needed. Residents arguing against the Lowe’s plan pointed out that a Home Depot has already won approval less than one mile away, and that the Town’s Long Range Planning Committee is in the middle of developing a plan for the community. The Hadley Planning Board, which some call the “Hardly” Planning Board, brought the October vote to the town meeting, after approving a plan for not only a Lowe’s store, but 21 units of housing on the former farm. Hadley, which at one point was considered a farming community, now resembles a convention of pylon signs and shopping malls, like a garish commercial advertisement inserted between the college towns of Amherst and Northampton, Massachusetts. Opponents said the Lowe’s rezoning was an example of spot zoning. “When you do a quilt like this, you get a crazy quilt,” one resident told the Union-News.
The temporary winner here is Home Depot, which has received approvals in a cluster of towns including Hadley, Greenfield, Brattleboro, and Keene. The Home Depots were bitterly opposed in Keene, New Hampshire, Greenfield, Massachusetts, and Brattleboro, Vermont. In two of these locations, Greenfield and Brattleboro, Home Depot assumed control over the “dead” Ames stores. Residents in Brattleboro have begun organizing a boycott of Home Depot, urging local residents to stay out of the store. “Bratt Power” is leading the effort to starve Home Depot of shoppers. A Lowe’s store is also being challenged in court in Leominster, Massachusetts, about an hour east of Greenfield. For more background on any of these battles, contact [email protected]