Walgreens denied King St. permit

By Anna Oakes (anna.oakes@mountaintimes.com)

Article Published: May. 3, 2013 | Modified: May. 3, 2013
Walgreens denied King St. permit

The hearing on a requested permit to build a Walgreens drew so many people that the fire marshal determined the 99-person occupancy limit had been exceeded in the Boone Council Chambers Thursday.

Photo by Anna Oakes

A permit to build a Walgreens on King Street was denied by the Boone Board of Adjustment following a four-hour hearing Thursday.

The board unanimously concluded that the development as proposed would not be in general conformity with the town of Boone's comprehensive plan and other adopted plans because it would not conform to the historic character of a High Country small town.

Matt DeMeyers of Avenue D Development, represented by attorney Forrest Ferrell, appeared before the BOA to request a special use permit to build a Walgreens at 114 and 116 W. King St. The site currently includes the Green Mother Goods retail store and another building.

Projects at this site are subject to the town's transitional zone requirements because the property abuts an R-1 single-family residential zoning district, requiring applicants to demonstrate mitigation of negative impacts on neighborhoods.

"This property is going to be landscaped, screened," DeMeyers said. "I don't foresee any sort of noise or light pollution coming from that site."

DeMeyers also said the Walgreens would be business of convenience rather than a destination: "I do not believe we will bring a lot of new traffic to the area."

But the BOA ultimately concluded that the applicant failed to demonstrate it would adequately mitigate noise, visual and traffic impacts to adjacent neighborhoods.

DeMeyers indicated Avenue D had been under contract to purchase the property from owner Dale Whisenant for 15 or 16 months.

Numerous members of the public testified at the quasi-judicial hearing in opposition to the project, arguing that the Walgreens would negatively impact traffic and safety at the site and that the size and design of the proposed building were not in harmony with the location's surroundings.

Several speakers also decried the corporate nature of Walgreens and emphasized their support for local businesses in Boone, though BOA Chairman Rich Crepeau noted at the start of public testimony that economic arguments could not be weighed by the board in considering the permit.

The hearing attracted so many people that Boone Fire Marshal Ronnie Marshal arrived and asked some individuals to leave the Council Chambers because the 99-person occupancy limit had been exceeded.

Corey Furman, pharmacy manager at Boone Drugs King Street, delivered a petition signed by 1,124 people opposing the issuance of a special use permit for the project. Boone Drugs King Street is located yards away from the proposed Walgreens site. Some petitions were signed at Boone Drugs locations in town, Furman confirmed.

When Ferrell asked Furman whether his "interest in avoiding competition" had anything to do with Furman's support for the petition, Furman noted that Boone Drugs Inc. did not oppose the opening of the Walgreens on Blowing Rock Road, also located close to a Boone Drugs location.

"But this is very different," he said. "You're actually affecting the nature itself and personality of downtown Boone."

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