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Petaluma ponders Walgreens drive-thru plan at late-night meeting

Petaluma City Council members seemed skeptical Monday night of Petaluma Health Care District officials' effort to convince them to overturn an earlier denial of their Walgreens drive-thru pharmacy proposal.

But by 11:15 p.m. the council had not taken a vote.

<USTags>The Planning Commission in July rejected the proposal, saying the general plan amendment and zoning changes requested weren't a community necessity. Commissioners also questioned the need for more office space and the inclusion of a drive-thru window for customers to drop off or pick up prescriptions.

Drive-thrus have been banned in Petaluma for several years in an effort to cut down on pollution-causing emissions created by idling vehicles.

The proposal includes a 2-acre retail development with a 7,500-square-foot office building and a 14,500-square-foot Walgreens with a 24-hour drive-thru pharmacy.

The health care district is working with Browman Development of Walnut Creek on the project, planned for district-owned land across from the hospital at McDowell Boulevard and Lynch Creek Way, just south of the Deer Creek Village shopping center.

Walgreens has said it will abandon the project if it doesn't win approval for a drive-thru, which company officials say is a crucial part of the company's business model.

Councilwomen Teresa Barrett and Kathy Miller and Councilman Gabe Kearney all sought firmer evidence from Walgreens and health care district representatives than offered in their appeal of the Planning Commission's rejection.

Health Care District CEO Ramona Faith said the district's partnership with Walgreens could help prevent patient readmissions to the hospital, for which Medicare doesn't reimburse, costing the hospital $130,000 a year.

But when questioned, Faith and Walgreens officials couldn't provide actual savings numbers.


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