The Mayor of Rochester, New Hampshire doesn’t want a 135,000 s.f. Home Depot in his community. Rochester Mayor Doug Lachance attended a Planning Board meeting earlier this month, and spoke out against Home Depot. “I think this project is a bad project for the city,” he admitted. Lachance said he now regrets having voted to rezone 15 acres of land from residential to business. A Massachusetts developer bought the land and an adjacent mall, and now wants to make way for Home Depot at the mall. “The big chains came in and slowly — it doesn’t happen overnight — the little stores went by the wayside.” Lachance told Foster’s newspaper that the Home Depot project will put pressure on a 40 year old family-owned hardware store called Brock’s Plywood, which would actually share a parking lot with Home Depot. The owner of Brock’s would not comment on his potential new neighbor. “We’re not saying anything negative or anything positive,” said Scott Brock. “We’re staying on the sidelines.” But one Planning Board member was not afraid to state the obvious: “I think there will be a net positive, but there is that very distinct possibility of there being a negative to the long-standing, family-run business.” The Little Man who built this town, loses again.
By “staying on the sidelines”, and saying ‘nothing negative’,. the people at Brock’s could very easily find themselves saying nothing more to anyone. Ironically, Home Depot is willing to spend its resources to fit Brock’s Plywood with a set of plywood windows, yet Brock’s will not spend its money to try to do whatever it takes to stop them. Home Depot would not hesitate to bring in consultants and land use attorneys to make sure they don’t lose in Rochester, while Brock’s waits to go out of business. Mayor Lachance knows what will happen. Like many building supply stores before it, Brock’s will sit on the sidelines, and die quietly on the sidelines. At least some public officials in Rochester are willing to say honestly what they expect to see happen.