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Walgreens wins Planning Commission approval

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Plans to build a new Walgreens on the corner of Clinton Parkway and Crossgate Drive cleared one significant hurdle on Monday night. Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners on Monday narrowly recommended approval of a rezoning that opens the door for a nearly 15,000-square-foot drug store to be built on the southwest corner of the intersection. Planning commissioners approved the rezoning on a 5-4 vote, after hearing a recommendation from planning staff members that the rezoning should be denied. Planning staff members said the city's comprehensive plan, Horizon 2020, does not call for retail development on that corner. Instead, it calls for a mix of residential or office development on the site. Planners also have expressed concern that the street network in the area may encounter problems if a retail business adds significant amounts of traffic. But developers and some neighbors have argued that having a drug store within walking distance may decrease the need for some area residents to make frequent trips on Clinton Parkway. The rezoning does limit the type of development on the corner to a drug store-type use, said Sandra Day, a city planner who reviewed the project. Planning commissioners Richard Hird, Kenzie Singleton, Greg Moore, Brad Finkeldei, and Charlie Dominguez voted for the rezoning. Commissioners Lisa Harris, Hugh Carter, Stanley Rasmussen and Charles Blaser voted against it. Commissioner Jeff Chaney was absent. But as is the case with most planning commission decisions, the Lawrence City Commission will get the final say on the matter. City commissioners will be asked to give final approval to the rezoning in the next few weeks. ¢¢¢ Planning commissioners also agreed to recommend approval of new language in the development code that clarifies where homeless shelters can be located in the community. The new language would allow traditional homeless shelters to be located generally in zoning districts that are nonresidential in nature, such as industrial or commercially zoned areas. The language also clarifies that even in those zoning districts, the shelter would have to receive a special-use permit from the City Commission. The new language, however, does create a smaller type of homeless shelter use that would be allowed in conjunction with churches and social service agencies. The small shelter could be located in most residential and commercial zoning districts in the city. It would not require a special-use permit from the City Commission, but would be limited in how large it could become. The smaller shelters could house no more than four people not related by blood or marriage, and must be physically connected to a site operated by a church, charitable or nonprofit agency. City commissioners ultimately will be asked to give final approval to the new wording. The new wording has been asked for by the Lawrence Community Shelter, which said the existing regulations have made their search for a new location outside of downtown difficult.

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