The Batavia Plan Commission will again consider a request to let a new downtown Walgreens store have a parking lot in front of the building, contrary to the city's zoning code.
The Zoning Board of Appeals approved the request in March, but in April that board and the plan commission tabled discussion of all matters Walgreens at the request of the owner and developer.
City development staff, the mayor, Walgreens officials and property owner Batavia Enterprises Inc. discussed things in the meantime, leading city staff members to change their recommendation against the placement of the parking lot, "basically because the benefits outweigh the negatives to the community and the downtown as a City Center at this point in time," wrote Batavia City Administrator Bill McGrath in a memo presented this week to the community development committee.
Batavia zoning law was changed several years ago to have buildings in the downtown area to be built no farther than 10 feet from the street. The idea is to have more of an urban feel to the downtown, encouraging people to walk around the downtown.
The new Walgreens would be set back 77 feet.
"As much as we would like to aim at a pedestrian-oriented downtown, there is a difference between a pedestrian-oriented downtown and a pedestrian-oriented community," McGrath wrote in the memo. The downtown Walgreens is not within walking distance of much of Batavia, he wrote.
He also said city officials could find no instance where Walgreens built an urban-style store, with little setback, in a suburban area.
Moving the parking to the rear of the building is complicated by differences in elevation caused by the current building and a parking lot being built over a former channel of the Fox River, he said.
Tuesday night, the community development committee considered the variance request, but decided it wants to deal with all variances, conditional-use requests and design-review matters in one fell swoop. The plan commission has yet to vote on a permit to allow a drive-up pharmacy window in the new building, and on the design of the building. The matter has yet to be scheduled, but could happen as early as its October meeting.
The store would be located between a former post office building, which is adjacent to the sidewalk, and the Batavia Plaza strip shopping center, which has a parking lot in front of it. It would be across the street from the new McDonald's, which will have a parking lot driveway in front of it. To the south are private and city-owned parking lots. So it isn't likely the block will ever have a continuous stretch of facades along the sidewalk, the memo said.