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Springfield Avenue Walgreens Debated

No conclusions were reached for the proposed pharmacy at the July 14 Planning Board Meeting.

The plans for the proposed Walgreens site on Springfield Avenue remain up in the air after a long Planning Board meeting on Tuesday evening. The meeting was ended before the developers presented their complete argument, and will be continued at a meeting for which a date has not been set.

Tensions between residents of homes near the proposed Walgreens and the developers were evident. Several homeowners attended the meeting and voiced objections to the plans outlined by 1633 Springfield Ave., the developers behind the project.

Residents say the plan for the site have changed for the worse since it was first proposed earlier this year. In the initial discussions about the pharmacy, Walgreens developers assured residents the store would not be open 24 hours, and would be built and operated in as non-disruptive a fashion as possible. Walgreens changed developers after that presentation, and residents expressed a pervading feeling of unease about the plans.

During his presentation on the project, site engineer Brett Skapinetz said the development had changed in a number of ways in response to requests from nearby property owners, including erecting a 12-foot fence between the store and the adjacent property. Residents said the concessions were not enough, arguing that the traffic, signage and outdoor garbage bins would disrupt the neighborhood.

“Other requests were impossible to deal with,” Skapinetz said, pointing specifically to the residents’ wish for LED lighting.

Skapinetz, who works for Dynamic Engineering in Chester, said he has worked on a number of Walgreens projects, and that this is notably different from other locations. Skapinetz said the outside lights would use less watts than Walgreens outdoor lighting normally does. Also, Walgreens plans to use smaller model trucks to bring merchandise into the site. 

Traffic engineer Joseph Staingar followed Skapinetz’s presentation. He argued that the traffic caused by the Walgreens would not overwhelm the neighborhood, citing studies showing that similar projects had caused 30 new car trips per hour maximum.

“A pharmacy is one of the lowest retail stores for generating traffic,” Staingar said, adding that the peak times of the pharmacy would be in the late afternoon, and would not interfere with the high traffic times for parents picking up and dropping off children at nearby Seth Boyden Elementary School.

Residents were not impressed. Gus Heningburg, owner of the property adjacent to the Walgreens site, criticized the speed of the changes to the proposal.

“We’re not in the same boat,” Heningburg said during Skapinetz’s time on the stand. “Why? Because this happened last week.”

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