The Petaluma Health Care District has submitted another application for a Walgreens drive-thru pharmacy, although city leaders have twice indicated it won't be approved.
The city Planning Commission last year denied the district's request for a general plan amendment and zoning changes for the district's project, called Lynch Creek Plaza, across the street from Petaluma Valley Hospital.
The district appealed the rejections, and in meetings last year and earlier this year, City Council members told developers that a drive-thru component wouldn't be approved. They were otherwise supportive of the project.
Developers working with the hospital board argued for an exception to the city's ban on drive-up lanes, saying it was an important convenience for Walgreens' customers and patients being treated at the hospital.
But a staff report on the latest application says the revised plans include minor design modifications but retain the drive-thru component.
City Manager John Brown and council members told developers in January that a drive-thru, expressly prohibited in the city's planning rules, was "dead in the water" and that they should seek alternative ways to deliver medicines to customers wanting the window convenience.
It's unclear what in the latest proposal developers think may convince city leaders to change their minds.
"The applicant is seeking reconsideration of the proposed project with retention of the drive- thru," the report states. "The applicant has not removed the drive-thru component or modified the original site layout from the version previously reviewed by the Planning Commission and City Council."
Hospital district CEO Ramona Faith and Browman Development spokesman Jim Stephens could not be reached last week for comment.
City staff's recommendation is to again reject the proposal.
Brown said Wednesday that he met with hospital board members last month and discussed alternatives, but he said he left feeling like little progress had been made.
"The council was pretty specific in its desire the last time they were there," Brown said. "The council didn't like the idea of the drive-thru."
The city banned new drive-thru lanes several years ago in an effort to prevent pollution-causing emissions created by idling vehicles.
The hospital district and Browman proposed a 2-acre retail development with a 7,500-square-foot office building and a 14,500-square-foot Walgreens drugstore on district-owned land across from the hospital at McDowell Boulevard and Lynch Creek Way.
They have argued that a drive-thru would help disabled and elderly customers, keep sick people from infecting others, assist parents with sick or young children and offer a drugstore convenience not found in Petaluma.
Also, they argued, the greenhouse gases produced by idling cars would be negligible and that other energy saving elements of the project would offset any pollution.
The Planning Commission will consider the application at its meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or firstname.lastname@example.org.