Council approves Walgreens zoning
MONMOUTH -- City leaders have approved a zone change that opens the door for construction of a Walgreens store.
City councilors voted 4-2 at a meeting Tuesday night in favor of switching the residential zoning of two parcels of property off the corner of Highway 99W and Main Street into a commercial designation.
Councilors Patrick Moser and Steve Milligan opposed the change.
Benson Sainsbury, a developer from Pasadena, Calif., plans to build a 14,800-square-foot pharmacy on the 1.4-acre plot. A Dutch Bros. Coffee kiosk will also be part of the development.
"I'm excited," Sainsbury said. "From the time we submitted the plan, we've seen this as a positive for the community."
The decision, however, follows nearly a year of bitter opposition from residents who say the Walgreens will lead to increased traffic congestion and ruin the atmosphere of the residential area near the proposed business.
"There goes the neighborhood," said one person in the audience after the vote was announced.
Pat Jaffer said she and other residents plan to file a claim with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals. They feel the developers had not met the criteria needed for a zone change.
Noise emanating from the building and increased traffic congestion at in their neighborhood were among the problems neighbors foresee.
Milligan said he didn't believe the complex fit in with the city's long-term development goals of protecting historic neighborhoods. He also said the Walgreens would hurt existing small businesses.
Councilor Dave Anderson said he sympathized with community members, but added that a Walgreens was a needed move toward boosting economic development.
"I'm not saying this is the key to everything," he said. "But the public need here is multi-faceted.
"We've heard that this intersection is the gateway to to the downtown -- 20 years of that vacant lot being the gateway doesn't make one iota of sense."
The council has asked Sainsbury to submit findings in August that prove that the design for the Walgreens meets certain building conditions before it approves the site plan for the business.
Keeping noise heard from homes near the site below 29 decibels, anple landscaping and prevention pf parking lot drainage going into residential property are among those conditions.