Mar 012011
 

The American Legion building on Magazine Street. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Zoning on Magazine Street may not be as accommodating to a Walgreens pharmacy as was originally assumed, members of the adjacent neighborhood association said Tuesday evening as they began preliminary discussions of the proposed development.

The old American Legion in the 5500 block of Magazine is zoned B-2, which allows for a variety of general retail uses, said Peggy Adams, an attorney on the board of the Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association. Although B-2 does not specifically prohibit drug stores, pharmacies with drive-through lanes are specifically mentioned in a separate section of the city zoning code, C-1A. And in some cases, Adams said, the fact that one type of development is specifically mentioned in a certain zoning has been used to preclude it in other zonings.

Adams’ concerns about the building’s zoning come at a very preliminary point in the Walgreens discussion, as the three neighborhood associations are planning a public meeting with the developer, Stirling Properties, tentatively set for March 16. But, still reeling after Romney Pilates left many Uptown residents feeling railroaded, Audubon-Riverside plans to send a letter to the city asking that no zoning approval be granted to Walgreens for the site until after the public forum.

Though the board is aggressively exploring its options, ARNA has not expressed any formal opinion on Walgreens, and no board members offered theirs during Tuesday’s meeting. Ultimately, the neighborhoods may decide that opposing Walgreens would be unwise, Adams said. The height limit on that section of Magazine Street is 55 feet, meaning a far more intrusive commercial entity could come instead Walgreens, she said.

“This property will get developed. We may end up with something worse, and we may end up with a developer who doesn’t talk to us,” Adams said. “We all need to be mindful that someone can come in and go up 55 feet and put in a whole lot of stuff that can be worse.”

To read a recap of our live coverage of the meeting, click in the box below.

  • Owen Courrèges

    Peggy Adams, an attorney on the board of the Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association. Although B-2 does not specifically prohibit drug stores, pharmacies with drive-through lanes are specifically mentioned in a separate section of the city zoning code, C-1A. And in some cases, Adams said, the fact that one type of development is specifically mentioned in a certain zoning has been used to preclude it in other zonings.

    With all due respect to Ms. Adams, this is a weak argument. B-2 zoning allows fast food restaurants and automated car washes. The idea that it would allow these uses but prohibit drive-through pharmacies is, in my view, an absurd result. In any event, zoning laws are supposed to be construed in favor of the property owner:

    “A zoning ordinance, being in derogation of the rights of private ownership, must be construed, when subject to more than one reasonable interpretation, according to the interpretation which allows the least restricted use of the property.” New Orleans v. Elms, 566 So. 2d 626, 632 (La. 1990) (citing City of Kenner v. Normal Life of Louisiana, Inc., 483 So. 2d 903 (La. 1986).

    • Kate

      Ms. Adams is a past president of the neighborhood association with decades of experience in zoning and a respected partner at Liskow & Lewis with over 30 years of real estate experience, i.e. zoning

      B-2 Zoning, in OUR area, DOES NOT allow fast food, as there is a law preventing that very thing

      Experience trumps here.

  • Elizabeth McCreary

    Mr. Associate Counsel:

    Why do you care exactly? Do you live in the neighborhood?

    Walgreens will destroy the surrounding neighborhood, but what I keep hearing from you is you think the rights of the developer/retailer should override the surrounding community…even the residential community which is directly impacted by this business.

    The problem here is the few people who want to pander to and grovel at the feet of Sterling Properties without taking a stand. Meanwhile other neighbors don’t want a parking nightmare to turn into a parking hell (if you don’t believe me, try to go to lunch in the area on a Saturday afternoon and park your car), or the potential for injecting crime into the neighborhood.

    All I hear are sycophants who don’t want to take a stand (because they want to flatter the all powerful Sterling Properties) or people who don’t say anything. Its the ordinary people who are angry…and their voices aren’t heard.

    • BurritoInMyTummy

      Completely off topic, but if you live in the neighborhood why don’t you just walk to lunch–then you don’t have to worry about parking your car?

  • Owen Courrèges

    Elizabeth,

    Why do you care exactly? Do you live in the neighborhood?

    I care because development issues affect the entire city.

    Walgreens will destroy the surrounding neighborhood[.]

    I’m sorry, but this is hysterics. I see no reason to believe that the introduction of a pharmacy will destroy the entire neighborhood. In fact, versus other potential uses for the site, the introduction of a Walgreens is pretty low-impact.

    [W]hat I keep hearing from you is you think the rights of the developer/retailer should override the surrounding community[.]

    What I’ve been saying is that the surrounding community doesn’t have good reasons for opposing the development, at least from a public policy or legal standpoint. It really boils down to personal preference, which isn’t a great reason to regulate property you don’t own. And yes, with zoning laws being what they are, I think that it would violate Walgreens’ rights to prevent them from moving in.

    Its the ordinary people who are angry…and their voices aren’t heard.

    We’re hearing plenty. The problem, again, is that their stance isn’t compelling for the reasons I’ve explained.

  • Jimmy K

    What a bunch of hysterics of a Walgreens. This type of parochial, paranoid attitude is one of the things that holds our city back. Some of the same arguments were used when Walgreens moved into the Quarter on Decatur across Jackson Brewery, and what happened? A cheesy theme restaurant was replaced with a business.

    What currently exists is an ugly building made of brown brick. It is hideous. The Walgreens can only get better.

    Just look at Whole Food. What a beautiful addition to the neighborhood.