Home Depot plans start this week

At the Sept. 12 Millville Town Council meeting, Interim Mayor Tim Droney fielded questions about the controversial Home Depot planned for the edge of the town, next to unincorporated Townsend Acres.

He clarified that no permits for the project had yet been issued by the town but said final plans were expected from Home Depot by the end of this week.

The public will be permitted to review the plans once they arrive, Droney emphasized, but an informational meeting on the project will require no vote, as the plans will only be reviewed for compliance with existing town ordinances.

It was bad news for the Townsend Acres residents who have opposed the commercial project just across the town’s corporate limits from their properties in the unincorporated county. After vocal opposition to the project from many of those present at an August workshop, they had hoped public pressure might derail, or at least significantly alter, the big-box hardware giant’s plans.

But a letter delivered to the town from Home Depot officials this week holds out little hope for them that the project will go away or be substantially changed, as requested in a letter from the Townsend Acres residents.

In part, the Home Depot letter reads:

“Our project and its corresponding site plan will satisfy all zoning and development requirements of the Town of Millville and our contemplated use is permitted by the applicable zoning code. As such, there will not be any ‘vote’ by the Council on the zoning or development requirement of the project as is.”

Home Depot officials note a company policy of open communication with residents, as well as a “development philosophy based on cooperation not confrontation” but go on to say, “We believe the overall reaction to the project has been favorable and that the general public is pleased to welcome Home Depot to Millville.”

The letter continues, saying that despite a lack of a specific list of concerns and requests from Townsend Acres residents as suggested by former Mayor Gary Willey, a number of concerns expressed at the August workshop were addressed in the final site plan.

Among those issues: consideration of screening the loading area and rear of the store from adjoining properties, mitigating excessive light glare and to the extent feasible, not scheduling deliveries between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Exactly what changes have been made to the site plan will be known once those final plans arrive in Millville.

The letter goes on to say that Home Depot officials were “even more disappointed that [Townsend Acres residents] chose to communicate through the media rather than directly with Home Depot. While we respect their dissatisfaction with our project, our intention is to vigorously pursue our application to the Town of Millville and to open a Home Depot retail store for the general public.”

Townsend Acres residents huddled over a copy of the letter after the Sept. 12 council meeting, continuing to vow both a boycott of the store and continued public opposition to the project as a whole.