Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Planning Commission: More Information Need on Proposed Walgreens Move ; City: Noise, Crime among Concerns

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Planning Commission: More Information Need on Proposed Walgreens Move ; City: Noise, Crime among Concerns

Article excerpt

The Topeka Planning Commission decided to put off deciding whether Walgreens can build a new store across from an existing one until it knows what the effect will be on traffic.

Walgreens requested to move from the southwest corner of S.W. 29th and Gage to the northwest corner, which now is occupied by houses. That requires a zoning change for the 11 houses from residential to a Planned Unit Development for commercial purposes. The planning commission met Monday evening to make recommendations about zoning but declined to decide on Walgreens' request. The city council has the final word on all zoning changes.

The 11 affected houses are on 2.75 acres at 3900, 3904, 3908 and 4000 S.W. 29th; 2813, 2817 and 2821 S.W. Gage Blvd.; and 4013, 4017, 4021 and 4025 S.W. 28th Terrace, according to documents filed with the planning commission.

Walgreens said the existing store, at 2915 S.W. Gage, is too large, at 18,000 square feet, and it doesn't have a drive-thru for prescription pick-ups. The proposed store would include 14,820 square feet.

The commission voted unanimously to ask staff for more information on traffic counts in the area and whether the proposed configuration of driveways would raise the risk of traffic accidents.

"The development itself I don't have a problem with, but I am concerned about the traffic," commission member Mike Lackey said.

The proposal got mixed reviews from neighbors. Annie Wilcox, who lives at 4013 S.W. 28th Terrace, said she was pleased when the developers approached her about selling her home. Her teenage son told her there is gang activity in the neighborhood, and he has found needles discarded on the sidewalk, she said.

Donnis Williams, who lives at 4021 S.W. 28th Terrace -- one of the houses that would be purchased if the development moves forward - - said she wasn't wedded to the idea of Walgreens moving there, but she felt something needed to be done to deal with criminal activity in rental houses along S.W. 29th and Gage. She said her home has lost $7,500 in value.

"It's been a mess for a long time," she said. …

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