On Tuesday, voters in Frisco, Colorado, resoundingly defeated a plan to develop a Home Depot superstore.
The vote was something of a surprise. A recent newspaper poll had shown that, although 23 percent were sill undecided, most decided voters supported the big-box store.
Campaign spending also favored Home Depot: as of early December, pro-Home Depot groups had raised $21,000 (almost all of it contributed by the developer), compared to $15,000 for those opposed. Final spending reports are expected to be even more skewed.
Home Depot had town officials on their side as well. The mayor even personally called many registered voters to urge them to support the deal.
The measure would have authorized the town of Frisco to enter into negotiations with Home Depot to develop a 9.4 acre parcel owned by the town. In the language accompanying the measure, the town detailed how it would spend an estimated $1.1 million in sales tax revenue generated by the store on parks, cultural amenities, and street improvements. Home Depot tried to further sweeten the pot by promising additional spending on affordable housing, a new ball field, and other local projects.
But opponents argued the sales tax figures were extremely misleading. They did not take into account lost revenue from the many locally owned businesses, including hardware stores and garden centers, that would suffer a drop in sales and possibly close when Home Depot opened. Nor did they consider the cost of providing public services, particularly road maintenance and police services, to the big-box store.
A grassroots group, Citizens Against Home Depot, joined with the Frisco Business Alliance to campaign against the store. They held several educational events, funded newspaper advertisements and mailings, and contacted neighbors in person and by phone. They focused on several core messages about the impact Home Depot would have on Frisco’s economy and environment, and the incompatibility of the store with community’s small town character.
They raised $15,000, mostly in the form of small donations contributed by more than 125 people.
In the end voters sided with those opposed to Home Depot by a 57 to 43 percent margin.