Walgreens convenience store ran into a Wal of opposition in the small town of Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Activists in Dartmouth, which is near the city of New Bedford, fought the placement of a free-standing store at the corner of Route 6 and Tucker Road. Like other drugstores, Walgreens favors corner lots in a stand-alone format. But when it came time in Dartmouth for people to stand up in support, Walgreens was alone. Here’s the report sent by residents: “In the town of Dartmouth, we also had a recent victory. Walgreen’s Pharmacy wanted to build one of their hideous, non-contextual retail boxes on a corner parcel. The proposed site contains three Greek-Revival style buildings (c.1840s). Of course,the proposal called for the demolition of these houses. Although Rte 6 is already a victim of sprawl, the proposed Walgreens would have added insult to injury. Happily, the proposed scale of the project triggered zoning restrictions and it went before the Board of Appeals. The developers exceeded the recommended surface area to be paved and this required site plan review, etc. The property is in proximity to the Slocum River; aquifer/recharge issues were raised. The Board of Appeals voted against it, and the community was also active in fighting it. It’s also good to know that the town government has the legal and zoning “mechanics” to defeat such proposals. It was victory for those threatened buildings and site; however, Walgreens simply marched down the street and sited their new store next to an existing CVS (another regional/global drugstore chain).” According to the New Bedford Standard Times newspaper, the project needed a special permit because it exceeded the 18% impervious lot coverage. Walgreens proposed 59% impervious coverage, or more than three times the limit in an acquifer protection district. The town’s Historical Commission called the Walgreens project “further destruction of Dartmouth’s past. We would prefer to see old buildings preserved and reused rather than torn down.” Walgreens argued unsuccessfully that most of the traffic coming to their new location were “people already on the road who stop in to pick up something.” That absurd statement could be applied to any new development, and represents the arrogance these companies have. Using such logic, everyone on the road is just stopping in to pick up something, somewhere, and new traffic burdens are all an illusion. That line of cars in front of you is just in your mind.
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