Compromise sought in Petaluma over Walgreens drive-through

The saga of a controversial Walgreens drug store and drive-through window in Petaluma likely will be continued until the fall as the city and developers try to craft a compromise.

A year ago, the Petaluma Health Care District asked the city for permission to build a 14,500-square-foot drug store and a 7,500-square-foot office building on land it owns across from the hospital on North McDowell Boulevard.

For that, it would need a general plan amendment and rezoning. The city’s general plan, its guiding blueprint for development, forbids new drive-throughs in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The land in question also would have to be rezoned from medical-office use to retail.

Health care district officials and representatives of the developer, Browman Development of Walnut Creek, have returned to the council and Planning Commission several times after being told the drive-through was unacceptable.

Their persistence seems to have won over at least one previously-opposed council member, while irritating at least one other.

The often heart-tugging discussion over a drive-through, urged by the sick, elderly and disabled at multiple hearings, has also at times overshadowed the more mundane but just as contentious issues of land use.

Several other medical professionals have urged the council to reject a general plan amendment and zoning change, arguing that the planned parcel is one of the few remaining medical-office designations near the hospital, a desirable area for health care professionals.

After a discussion at last week’s council meeting, Browman is amending its application, which could be discussed at public hearings in September and October.

Councilwoman Kathy Miller, who serves as the liaison to the Planning Commission, expressed annoyance at the repeated requests for approval for essentially the same project.

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