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Sarah surfaces; former council member will speak at tonight’s meeting to raise concerns about traffic around a proposed Walgreens store

In City Hall, Sarah Henderson on May 28, 2008 at 8:06 pm

Former City Council member Sarah Henderson is upset about a proposal to change the city’s future land-use map to allow for a drug store on C Avenue NE next to single-family homes and just north of a convenience store at Blairs Ferry Road NE.

The proposed change, sought by Midwest Property Group Ltd., will permit a Walgreens drug store to go on land now listed as residential on the city’s land-use map.

Henderson, who lives on nearby Teakwood Lane NE, says she is most concerned about the added traffic to the surrounding neighborhood that will come with the drug store, and she is wondering, too, about having a 24-hour store operation next to houses.

The developer, she acknowledges, has met with nearby homeowners, but the developer has not done the same with those in the larger neighborhood, she says.

A month ago, the City Planning Commission quickly and unanimously approved this change in the city’s future land-use map after hearing that adjacent homeowners had agreed to the new commercial development and an office development next door, both developments of which back up to homes on one side of Greenfield Street NE.

Helping fuel the agreement was the developer’s decision to give each of the homeowners a piece of the timber that separates homes from the proposed development.

The CPC loved the idea. No one at the meeting raised any concerns about the project.

But what about the rest of the neighborhood? asks Henderson, who served on the City Council in 2006 and 2007 and who is director of strategic marketing for GreatAmerica Leasing Corp.

Funny, but suddenly, Henderson finds herself as a constituent confronted by the regulatory process the city uses to make decisions about developments. And she finds the process lacking.

Asked why she hadn’t objected to the City Planning Commission a month ago, Henderson says she and others in the wider neighborhood didn’t know about the meeting.

For such a meeting, the city’s regulatory process only requires the city to notify property owners within 200 feet of the property slated for a change in land use, she notes.

Henderson says she became aware that the proposed development was moving ahead when signs went up around the site announcing the next step in the regulatory process, an actual change of zoning for the property.

Publicly displayed signs are required for such a zoning change, but that change is easier for a developer to secure once the land-use map already has been changed.

Without a wider notification about a CPC meeting or council meeting to decide a change in land use, only the most devoted of City Hall followers would be paying attention to every planning commission and council agenda to know that a land-use change is in the offing, Henderson says.

She says she now knows of the discussion about land-use at tonight’s council meeting only because the zoning signs went up too early before the land-use matter was decided by the council.

Henderson, who was never shy about weighing in on issues as a council member, says she’s all set to take to the microphone tonight.

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  1. You go girl! We miss you.

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