Think your community is overrun with sprawl? The residents of Hadley, Massachusetts, which used to be a picturesque postcard farming community, has transformed itself over the past ten years into the sprawl connection that links the college communities of Amherst and Northampton. Without student shoppers, the big boxes that have sprouted up could not survive. Here’s the latest report from the front lines in Hadley, where the Planning Board is so predisposed towards big boxes, that we call them the “Hardly” Planning Board: “Hadley is ground zero for sprawl in Western Massachusetts. Public hearings start August 16 for a Wal-Mart Supercenter and Lowe’s on Route 9. The Planning Board has advised residents they will not be allowed to speak on August 16 so the developer is not interrupted. Public comments will be allowed later. In addition,
construction of a Home Depot and attached mall with 8 more stores is set to begin this fall. In all, the amount of commercial square footage in this agricultural town of 5,000 is set to double, from 1 million to 2 million square feet, in the next 2-3 years. Traffic will jump 90% and air quality will worsen, according to state
There is no regional land use planning in Hampshire County, and the neighboring towns of Amherst and Northampton never open their mouths when these giant retail projects come forward. Even though the Route 9 link between these towns has become more clogged than Larry King’s arteries, the traffic engineers keep talking about improving the traffic flow by adding more cars. Hadley’s existing Wal-Mart, which has only been open four or five years, was already part of an EPA suit for storm water pollution. When Sprawl-Busters charged that Wal-Mart was going to expand its discount store into a larger supercenter, Wal-Mart’s response was, “and next we’ll be landing a space ship on our roof.” Well, the space ship has landed, and the Walmartians have applied for another redundant store in the hopes it can steal market share from the nearby Target superstore. Link to www.HadleyNeighbors.org to learn the latest and find out what you can do.