After a three hour process featuring questions, comments, presentations and more talk about decibel levels and illumination than one would ever have in an entire year, the Plan Commission ultimately voted 7-1 against recommending a new Walgreens be built at 63rd and Woodward.
Residents against the proposed location came out in full-force for the second straight meeting, taking exception with aspects of just about every topic up for discussion, from traffic to property values to whether or not the concept even fit within the village's Comprehensive Plan.
On traffic, numerous community members in attendance felt the traffic studies and projections didn't match the reality of the intersection, while others thought accidents due to a variety of factors were imminent.
With regard to property values, some residents in the immediate vicinity worried having Walgreens as a neighbor would decrease their property values.
The biggest point of contention for residents and commissioners alike seemingly came from the comparisons drawn between the proposed Walgreens and similarly zoned “low-intensity offices,” a framework the petitioner felt the Walgreens would fit into at that specific location.
“Does 1300 vehicles in-and-out [daily] constitute as a 'low-intensity use?',” one resident asked early into public comment.
Later, during the commissioners' deliberation, the comparisons found their way into the thought-process of many of the commissioners.
“My personal opinion is this [proposed development] generates a lot more traffic than a low intensity office,” said commissioner Alan Jirik. “You don't have drive-thrus or Redbox or [large] delivery at an office building. I can't see that this is [equivalent to] a low intensity office.”
Said commissioner Michael Quirk: “When I think about all the retail places within the village boundaries, and the influx of people using them, there's always steady use...but when I think abut offices space and 'low intensity', I think people come and do their work [and] there's not much traffic that comes through the day.”
Commissioner Greg Hosé, the lone vote in favor of making a positive recommendation to the Village Council, felt the traffic study conducted—something residents and fellow commissioner Denise Rabatah felt weren't site-specific enough—was adequate, and he wondered if the aversion to the proposal was because it was a Walgreens more than anything else.
“I guess I'm trying to determine if this weren't a Walgreens, if this were an office building with the same statistics for peak hour traffic, would the opposition be the same?,” he asked.
It wasn't immediately clear what the next step for the applicants would be, and while the next logical step in the process would be to take their case to the Village Council, the 7-1 vote against by the Plan Commission certainly won't help their odds of success.