Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Jobs trump

Editorials & Comment
Journal Inquirer
January 9, 2010

Advocates of putting a Home Depot in Vernon are getting ready to make another run at it and opponents are gearing up to oppose again.

At this point, the onus — rhetorically, politically, and legally — should be on opponents.

There are two reasons for this.

One is that the opponents have drug this thing out on the basis that the Home Depot, to be located just off exit 67 of Interstate 84 in Vernon, represents an environmental threat. But, after a great deal of time in and out of court and the newspapers, they have presented no substantial evidence.

The second reason is that, in the absence of an environmental danger, jobs — the possibility of the generation of decent-paying jobs for the town — should trump other considerations.

Increasingly, it appears that the folks opposing Home Depot do so because they disapprove of "Big Box" development generally. They think such stores are gauche, or that they attract too many people; that they make the community look less classy or quaint.

But these are matters of taste or ideology.

And the practical question is whether Home Depot would do more harm or more good.

Given the jobs and property taxes it would raise, it certainly seems like the answer is: more good.

Mind you, any town, or neighborhood, has a right to fight for its integrity or its physical beauty. But we are talking about a commercial area near the highway that already has two fast-food restaurants and an empty, overgrown eyesore of an ex-sports complex. No rivers are being filled in. No streams polluted. No fine old colonials torn down.

If Home Depot is really going to hurt the town or Mother Nature, someone needs to explain how. Soon.

Opponents need to put up or shut up.

If the only case against Home Depot is that some people don't like it or find it distasteful, that's not enough. Let Home Depot in.

Jobs trump taste, ideology, Nimbyism, and vague prejudice.

In the absence of a good reason not to let Home Depot build, let them build.