By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A Walgreens drive-thru proposed by the Petaluma Health Care District was rejected again by the Petaluma Planning Commission and likely now will head to the City Council — which has previously expressed disapproval of the plan.
Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to deny the district’s second request to change the general plan — the city’s primary planning document — and its zoning code to accommodate a drive-thru pharmacy in the drug store. It also was rejected last year.
But the health care district, a public agency that relies on revenue from the LifeLine medical alert device program, real estate and investments to operate Petaluma Valley Hospital, wants to build a Walgreens on North McDowell Boulevard and partner with it for patient services.
Developers argued that the Walgreens drive-thru “is consistent with the intent” of the general plan because the pollution generated would be negligible, the window wouldn’t be as busy as a fast food drive-thru and other energy saving measures would offset any pollution.
“It is the literal text that is problematic,” said Browman Development spokesman Jim Stephens.
Planning Commissioners agreed.
“It does conflict with the general plan,” Commissioner Jocelyn Lin said. “I don’t see how we can make an exception for it.”
Several commissioners applauded the project goals and services it could provide with the hospital.
“But I can’t get past the drive-thru issue. I really can’t,” said Councilwoman Kathy Miller, a liaison to the commission. “Our general plan is really clear. This is what we decided, after a lot of community input.”
Several commissioners said they hope the council will revisit the drive-thru ban for projects that add a community benefit.
Health care district CEO Ramona Faith said she anticipated the issue would return to the council for a final decision. She said she had additional research that could answer the council’s concerns.
No date has been set for the council to consider it.
You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or email@example.com.