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City Council sets public hearing on Walgreens zoning change

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council will hold a public hearing next month on an ordinance that would provide a zoning change and allow construction of a proposed Walgreens pharmacy.

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council will hold a public hearing next month on an ordinance that would provide a zoning change and allow construction of a proposed Walgreens pharmacy.

The council voted Monday night to schedule the public hearing for Aug. 7.

If the council adopts the ordinance and the zoning change, Walgreens will be allowed to construct a 14,820-square-foot building, 60 parking spaces and a double-lane prescription pick-up and drive-through at the corner of First Street and Trott Avenue Southeast.

The purpose of the zoning change is to assemble a large enough tract of land to construct the pharmacy, said Bruce Peterson, director of planning and development for the city. The tract will cover the present Speedy Print shop on First Street and three homes located just east of Speedy Print on Second Street.

No zoning change is requested for the Speedy Print site since it's already zoned for general business. But a zoning change from R-2 (single-family and duplex residential) to general business is required for the three lots where the homes are located.

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The houses and the Speedy Print shop will be removed, under plans proposed by The Faigus Group of Northbrook, Ill. The zoning change was requested by The Faigus Group, representing Walgreens.

In other zoning business, the council voted 6-2 to send the preliminary plat of a proposed apartment development in northwest Willmar back to the Planning Commission for further consideration.

The vote came after about an hour's discussion about the Hill's Westside Plexes being proposed by Hillario Vargas and Dawn Skogstad of New London. Vargas and Skogstad propose to construct four 4-plex apartment buildings on property located south of First Avenue Northwest and east of 33rd Street Northwest.

The property is a replat of Park View Estates, which was laid out for twin homes years ago but was never developed.

Peterson said the property is presently zoned R-4 (medium density multiple family residential), which would allow for up to 24 apartments. He said the Hill's preliminary plat was approved 4-2 by the Planning Commission on July 12.

Neighboring homeowners objected to the proposal during the Planning Commission's meeting, and about a dozen homeowners attended the council meeting Monday night to object to the proposed development.

Speaking for the neighborhood, Nate Schueller presented a petition signed by 45 people representing owners of the 50 homes opposed to the development. Schueller said the neighborhood was concerned about increased traffic, safety and lack of sidewalks.

Also, he said the neighborhood is already the location of other apartments and housing projects, and he said homeowners were concerned that their property values would decrease.

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Council member Denis Anderson, who represents the city's north side, said he understood the land use issue but said he opposed the replat.

Council member Ron Christianson said his neighborhood in southwest Willmar is also undergoing change. He said he opposed the replat and said the council should listen to the neighborhood concerns.

Council members Doug Reese and Jim Dokken asked if the council had a basis for denying the replat. Reese and council member Steve Gardner said they did not hear a basis for denying the proposal.

Anderson then asked the council to send the replat back to the Planning Commission. The voice vote, as declared by Mayor Les Heitke, was 6-2. He told the neighbors in the audience that the Planning Commission will not hold another public hearing on the proposal.

The Planning Commission will meet again on July 26.

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