The city of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, which calls itself “the birthplace of the tomato”, may end up with fruit on its face if Home Depot gets its way. The city, like many other small towns, is busy at work on an ambitious downtown revitalization project. But at the same time, it is opening up its arms to big box sprawl on the highway, which is like tossing a tomato at their downtown investment. According to the Columbus Dispatch, a 90 acre farm near Reynoldsburg has been donated to the state’s Farmland Preservation Program, to keep it out of development. A developer from Canton, Ohio, Giltz & Associates, wants to build a shopping center with a Home Depot. Reynoldsburg officials opposed preserving the farm, but the owner, Helen Trotter, refused to sell her land to developers, and chose instead to preserve it as farmland. Trotter’s acreage is in the township of Jefferson, but Reynoldsburg surrounds her property. The developer is now buying up the land where the proposed Home Depot will sit. Mayor Bob McPherson, who likes to call himself “Mayor Bob,” apparently sees no problem with a new Home Depot just five miles from an existing Home Depot. The thought may not have occurred that Home Depot will shut down the other store, leaving Mayor Bob with an empty store and a lot of tomato on his face. Mayor Bob told the newspaper that the new Home Depot would serve a different market than the one five minutes away. “I think they know their business better than we know,” the Mayor said.
If Mayor Bob could peel the skin off the feelings of businesspeople in downtown Reynoldsburg, he’d probably hear a lot of concern about what a “category killer” on the edge of town will do to smaller businesses already in the central business district. And will the local gas stations like it when Mayor Bob breaks the news that Home Depot is opening up gas stations also? Residents in the greater Columbus, Ohio area who don’t want to see Mayor Bob with tomato stains on his jacket, can reach him at 1-614-322-6800. Let Hizzoner know that another Home Depot is going to put an economic squeeze on local business.