Steamboat Planning Commission votes, 4-2, against Walgreens

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Editor's note: This story has been corrected from its original version. A quote by Wendy Lyon was incorrectly attributed to someone else in the first published version of the story.

The Steamboat Springs Plan­­ning Commission voted, 4-2, on Thursday night to recommend denial of plans for a new U.S. Highway 40 building intended to house a Walgreens store.

The majority of commissioners said they could not accept plans that called for the store’s loading dock and enclosed Dumpster to be located on the east side of the building close to U.S. 40.

Steamboat developer Brian Olson, who would develop the building and lease it to Wal­­greens, quickly confirmed that he intended to appeal the decision to the Steam­­boat Springs City Council on Tuesday night.

Commissioner Richard Levy, who made the motion to deny, said he wasn’t buying the argument that Olson and Walgreens couldn’t have relocated the service facilities planned to face the busy intersection of U.S. 40 and Pine Grove Road to another side of the building where they would have less visual impact.

“The service area should be an easy fix,” Levy said. “It seems like the applicant is coming in here and saying this is the way we do things and that’s the way it’s going to be.”

Levy was joined in voting to deny by Commission Chair­­man Jason Lacy and Com­­missioners Brian Hanlen and Jennifer Rob­bins.

Lacy said there were too many conflicts between the project as designed and the require­­ments of the community develop­­ment code and written stand­­ards for the entry corridor.

Vice Chairwoman Kathi Meyer and Commissioner Troy Brook­­shire opposed the motion to deny. Commissioners Cedar Beau­­regard and Cynthia Slavik stepped down, Beauregard because his brother has worked for Olson and Slavik because she did not think she had taken part in enough of the public hearings on the matter to make an informed decision.

Olson showed the commissioners research by local consultant Scott Ford indicating that a Wal­­greens in a market similar to Steam­­boat/Routt County could expect annual sales of $5 million, of which 15 to 25 percent would be new sales to the market. At 25 percent, or $1.25 million in new business, Walgreens could be expected to generate $12,500 in annual county sales tax revenues and $50,000 in city sales tax revenues, Ford wrote.

Wendy Lyon, a co-owner of Lyon Drug Store in downtown Steamboat, challenged Ford’s numbers.

“I assume a good part of (the $5 million) is prescription drug sales,” Lyon said. “Prescription medicines are not taxable. A majority of the other items (carried by Walgreens) are already in this town. I believe they are here to take a piece of pie as opposed to making the pie larger.”

Brookshire said that although he hoped Steamboat residents would remain loyal to local independent business Lyons, it was not his job to make a determination on the desirability of the business that would occupy Olson’s building.

“I’m concerned this may harm Lyon Drug. I worry about that,” Brookshire said. “I hope the community will stick with loyal businesses. But I think it’s time for something to happen at that intersection. It’s going to be a good-looking building that will add to that commercial activity node and create energy at that intersection.”

Comments

Tahnee Miller 3 years, 2 months ago

Correction to the quote above about challenging the numbers... The quote actually came from Wendy Lyon, pharmacist and part owner at Lyon Drug. She made a terrific point about prescriptions not being a taxable item as well as recognizing that most of their sales revenue would come from other businesses. And for the record, Walgreens did sent us a "business acquisition proposal" letter in the past week. We do not intend to sell to them.

My main point during the meeting was challenging the safety of a drive up window. A study of pharmacist peers done by The Ohio State University indicates that pharmacists who work at locations with drive up windows believe the extra distractions associated with having the window service contribute to delays, reduced efficiency, and indeed even prescription dispensing errors. If the many variances are being requested because of the requirement of a drive up window in the Walgreens model, this is not a strong argument in the orientation and set back of the building design. The link between drive through windows and dispensing errors alone should be a concern to the public.

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greenwash 3 years, 2 months ago

And we really care what Troy Brookshire has to say......NOT!

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addlip2U 3 years, 2 months ago

Are the citizens of this community represented by commisson-ers on the planning committee that have Steamboat at heart? Where is your loyalty to locally own business?

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Tahnee Miller 3 years, 2 months ago

Just for the loyal "locally owned business" followers....thank you for your support! We are very, very grateful to you. But I want to let you know that Troy Brookshire said some very kind things with regard to Lyon Drug. He urged Steamboat's citizens to remain loyal to Lyon Drug. We are tremendously grateful for his kind comments. What he said is on record.

If you want to make a difference in the appeal process to the city council, I urge you to write a letter expressing your concern about the BUILDING, not the business. Focus on those facts of the many, many variances being requested that do not reflect the current building codes. Please email the council. That will be on record, they will read your comments, and you could make a difference.

Thanks again! We love our community!

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Tahnee Miller 3 years, 2 months ago

If you do send an email or letter to the council, please do so before this Tuesday.

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Brent Boyer 3 years, 2 months ago

Thanee: Thank you for pointing out the mistake, which Tom Ross confirmed when re-checking his notes this morning. The above version has been corrected, and a correction will be published on the front page of tomorrow's paper.

Brent

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JustSomeJoe 3 years, 2 months ago

I wonder what the pro-developer city council is going to do with the appeal?

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JusWondering 3 years, 2 months ago

This feels like Wal-Mart from the '80s all over again.

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John St Pierre 3 years, 2 months ago

If Walgreens wants to come to town ...thats fine..as long as they follow the rules..... OUR RULES....... This should have nothing to do with existing business's.... this is about following the community standard's, zoning & planning rules.... if not go build it Oak Creek or Yampa....(no offense to those communities but there they would be creating jobs)

In regard to their economic impact.... they will not be bringing any.... except a few jobs which will probably come at the expense of other competing business's.... are they bringing new customers to the area...NO... just the existing ones.....so they are in fact just making the slices of pie smaller... The construction jobs by the way will come from Denver or most likely beyond.... Walgreens like most national chains has their own contractors......and while it may seem like its a local project... watch the license plates......

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