Walgreens decision tabled

Published 10:10 pm Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A conceptual rendering of the Walgreens site proposed on West Constance Road. Issues with an entrance on North Main Street, between the McDonald’s and Super 8 Motel, caused planners to delay a decision on the site Tuesday.

A Walgreens pharmacy could be coming to downtown Suffolk, but plans currently are on hold while the city’s traffic engineering department works with developers.

The Planning Commission on Tuesday tabled a rezoning request and street vacation request associated with the planned business on West Constance Road, just west of the McDonald’s restaurant near the city’s busiest intersection.

The commissioners were concerned about a proposed entrance on North Main Street, between the McDonald’s lot and the Super 8 Motel. Developers want it to be both an entrance and an exit, but city traffic engineers have only recommended it to be an entrance, Planning Director Scott Mills said. An exit from the site would be provided on West Constance Road.

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“On any given day, that intersection is congested big time,” commissioner William Perry said. “Any additional traffic coming out of Walgreens is going to create a nightmare.”

Attorney Whitney Saunders said the business, if approved, would bring 20 to 30 jobs, some of them part time, to the city. It also would bring $5 million of improved value to the real estate and about $8 million in sales, Saunders said.

“We think we’re bringing significant positive attributes,” Saunders said.

In addition, if approved, the developers, CRES-EG Development LLC, would landscape the land behind the building that leads to the Nansemond River with plants designed to soak up runoff.

Some commissioners were ready to approve the request and let engineers work out the entrance issues later. Commissioner Donald Mills pointed out the same conditions are present at other nearby businesses.

But others wanted to delay a decision on the matter for further study by traffic engineers.

“I think in order to meet the needs of the developer, I’d like to see us make a recommendation to table this matter for 30 days,” commissioner Thomas Savage said.

“I think the matter does need further study,” commissioner William Goodman agreed.

The issue will be taken up again at the commission’s next meeting, set for Nov. 20.