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Home Depot ends lease with Coquille Economic Development Corp.

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NORTH BEND, Ore. (AP) - The Coquille Economic Development Corp. completed a lease agreement with Home Depot Inc. for a development on CEDCO property in January. But hopes for the store in North Bend ended with the news Home Depot was terminating the lease with the corporation, the business arm of the Coquille Indian Tribe.

''We are surprised and disappointed that Home Depot has chosen this course of action,'' CEDCO Chief Executive Brady Scott stated in a press release, adding that the reasons cited for the termination could have been resolved.

Home Depot had planned to develop a 130,000-square-foot store on 50.5 acres north of The Mill Casino-Hotel and be the anchor business for a 35- to 38-acre mixed retail development.

Scott said Home Depot's decision to back out is based on a storm water permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Home Depot had the right to back out if it didn't like the storm water permit, Scott said.

He said Home Depot did not specify what its objections were.

CEDCO spokesman Ray Doering said CEDCO received the notice Feb. 29.

''We honestly thought we had an agreement, and we were ready to announce when we would get started,'' Doering said. He said CEDCO did not announce the decision until mid-March because they didn't want to ''jump into reactions.''

The Army Corps permit was issued in February and the project received two storm water permits March 3 from the state.

Home Depot agreed to pay a $1.3 million penalty to resolve possible violations of the Clean Water Act discovered at more than 30 construction sites in 28 states and to implement a program to prevent storm water pollution at each new store it builds.

Storm water may not have been the only factor.

Atlanta-based Home Depot saw a sharp drop in third-quarter earnings and reportedly plans to cut nearly 500 jobs at its headquarters and to cancel store openings.

Ron Opitz, the executive director of the South Coast Development Council, a business recruitment agency, said he believed Home Depot's decision in North Bend may have been driven by the economy.

Scott said he and other CEDCO representatives knew of some of the company's troubles and learned of the fine a day after gaining the Army Corps permit.

''I think that legally they can point to the storm water permits not meeting their requirements,'' he said. ''But, I think that anybody who is paying attention can do the math.''

The two-year effort to bring Home Depot to North Bend included months of negotiations and an act of Congress for the tribe to gain exemption from the Indian Non-Intercourse Act, a nearly 200-year-old federal law that restricts the sale and lease of tribally owned land.

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