Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Home Depot files application to build off exit 67 in Vernon

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
May 31, 2007

VERNON — Home Depot filed an application this week with the Planning and Zoning Commission to build a 117,000-square-foot store and 28,713-square-foot garden center on 14.7 acres known as the former New England SportsPlex, off exit 67 of Interstate 84

Home Depot owns the parcel at 117 Reservoir Road and is making a second bid to build on the piece of land.

Residents were vocal in opposing the plans during Home Depot's first prolonged try to gain town approval.

Plans stalled a year ago when the Inland Wetlands Commission twice rejected applications for the now abandoned and overgrown complex of softball fields.

Home Depot and developer Diamond 67 LLC appealed the decision, and this month Vernon Superior Court Judge Lawrence C. Klaczak ruled that the Wetlands Commission acted improperly in denying the permit. Klaczak further ordered the commission to issue a wetlands permit with reasonable conditions.

According to the decision, the commission exceeded its jurisdiction when it tried to regulate activity beyond the Walker Reservoir wetlands and a 75-foot buffer area. And expert testimony that commission members relied on to make their decision was concerned more with adverse public opinion and general concerns rather than site-specific evidence, the judge ruled.

Last week, the Wetlands Commission decided unanimously that it would not contest the judge's decision. It plans to issue a permit for the site at its next meeting, scheduled for June 26.

The Planning and Zoning Commission, which also needs to give its approval, placed the Home Depot proposal on its June 7 agenda, when it will formally receive the application.

Public hearings then will be scheduled as the commission reviews site plans, soil erosion plans, and sediment plans before considering several special permits.