After discussing the proposed Walgreens at 63rd and Woodward for more than two hours during Tuesday night's council meeting, the fate of the pharmacy's relocation from 63rd and Belmont is still unclear.
For the residents in attendance, the proposal represented everything from a bureaucratic blunder to an affront on their livelihood. Residents took issue with everything from traffic safety to the integrity of the soil the Walgreens would be built on. Essentially, the residents supported any perceived flaw in the plan they felt would cast the proposal in a negative light.
And though the petition won't be voted on until June 5 at the earliest, many of the public comments came across as if it were already a done deal, creating an accusatory tone that mayor Martin Tully took exception with numerous times throughout the meeting.
“You've basically accused us of cheating on a test we haven't taken yet,” Tully said at one point during the public comment.
Representatives and partners with Walgreens were also on hand to address various issues such as sight distances on Woodward and truck traffic, but with the dearth of information and complaints the residents had, they were unable to address every concern at the meeting.
Council members, for the most part, remained neutral during the meeting, with Commissioner Bob Barnett offering one of the rare glimpses of an opinion for or against the proposal.
“I personally cannot be supportive of this thing going forward unless there's physical changes to the northbound [traffic] of Woodward,” Barnett said. “Unless there are physical changes to northbound Woodward I'm still struggling to support this.”
Barnett did add, though, if the traffic and safety problems could be met, he might feel differently.
The proposed Walgreens, which would occupy the northwest corner of Woodward and 63rd, requires more than simple construction. The plan calls for the annexation of numerous properties, the consolidation of those properties, rezoning the property from R-1 Single Family Residence to B-2 General Retail Business and finally, authorizing a special use permit for the property.
The biggest point of contention since the beginning for residents is whether or not the proposed Walgreens would fall under the umbrella of “low-intensity office”, which is what the Comprehensive Plan calls for in that area if not used for the residential it currently is. In January, the Plan Commission ultimately felt it did not fall under that umbrella, and they voted against recommending the plan to the village council. However, village staff recommends approval of the plan.