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posted: 3/21/2012 5:39 PM

Online petition protests Batavia Walgreens plan

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  • Batavia Enterprises Inc. proposes to build a new Walgreens store in downtown Batavia.

      Batavia Enterprises Inc. proposes to build a new Walgreens store in downtown Batavia.
    Courtesy of Batavia Enterprises Inc.

  • Walgreens proposes to replace this current store in downtown Batavia with a free-standing one next door.

       Walgreens proposes to replace this current store in downtown Batavia with a free-standing one next door.
    Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer, July

 
 

Some Batavians have started an online petition at signon.org to get Batavia aldermen to reject the current design of the new downtown Walgreens store.

It protests the 77-foot setback of the proposed free-standing building from Wilson Street. The building would have a parking lot in front of it.

"The community has invested their time and resources and defined in the Batavia Comprehensive Plan their vision for downtown. We rely on our representatives to ensure the proposed Walgreens plan, and all future plans, meet the defined criteria, without unrealistic exception," states the petition, started by Amy Girmscheid and Nell Novak.

"I'm not against Walgreens; I shop at Walgreens," Girmscheid said Wednesday night.

What got her started was "Batavia's knee-jerk reaction to things."

Batavia's downtown plan calls for prohibiting parking lots in front of buildings, and instead constructing buildings at the lot line. Planners think that the more urban "feel" of such a design would encourage pedestrian traffic, and that increasing the amount of people who walk about the downtown will be good for business.

Representatives of the property's owner, Batavia Enterprises, however, have told the Batavia Plan Commission that Walgreens representatives insist on having a parking lot in front of their store. They want a drive-through, and their existing store in a strip mall next-door can't accommodate that. There is another Walgreens in Batavia, on Fabyan Parkway near Randall Road.

Girmscheid said she would like city officials to "stick to" the city's plan for awhile. And if that means Walgreens leaves, that's too bad, she said. But, "we will get another business downtown," she said.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, 123 people had signed the petition, including Alderman Lucy Thelin Atac and her sister, Betsy Thelin Zinsser, who is active in Batavia environmental efforts. The wife and adult son of Alderman Robert Liva have also signed, as has former city clerk Hannah Volk, who is married to Alderman Jim Volk. Britta McKenna, the former executive director of Batavia MainStreet, has also signed, as has the husband of the vice chairman of the plan commission.

One signer, Barbara Kalina, wrote: "Why do we invest time, energy, and talent into city plans if we do not intend to follow them? Big-box stores, Walgreens included, have no allegiance to a community and will leave us high and dry with an albatross if their numbers are not to their liking. We know this to be true so why are we even considering this?"

Walgreens needs variations from city code to build the way it wants. The matter has not been scheduled for a city council vote.

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