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Batavia debates Walgreens parking plan

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 8:28 a.m. CDT

BATAVIA – Aldermen on Tuesday debated whether to allow parking in front of a proposed Walgreens store in downtown Batavia.

Walgreens is proposing to build a new store that would be set back about 70 feet from Wilson Street. The city’s zoning code standard requires a front building setback to be 10 feet or less.

Austin Dempsey, vice president of Batavia Enterprises, asked aldermen to table the issue after they were divided about the plans. The plan calls for Walgreens to move from its 12,650-square-foot store at 138 W. Wilson St. in the Batavia Plaza into a 14,500-square-foot building with a drive-thru just east of East China Inn in the same shopping center.

Batavia Enterprises owns Batavia Plaza.

“I appreciate everyone’s comments, pro and con,” Dempsey said in addressing the aldermen. “We have exhausted all opportunities to bring the building up to the street.”

Instead, he showed plans of an archway and street wall that would block the view of vehicles in the store’s parking lot.

“We are trying to come up with a win-win scenario,” he said.

Fourth Ward Alderman Jim Volk voiced his opposition to the plan, although he said he would like more information about the need for the variance.

"If we approve this, we will set the tone for all of Wilson Street," Volk said. "I don't want to see us looking like any other suburb. We have to stand up and say we can do better."

Fourth Ward Alderman Susan Stark, however, supported the variance. She said it would be hypocritical to deny Walgreens the variance when the city approved a large setback for the new McDonald's restaurant.

She also noted that city staff supported the variance.

"I think they have taken in account what is best economically," she said.

Online petitions have been created for and against the plans. An online petition started by the group Batavians for Progress at www.signon.org has garnered more than 150 signatures against the proposal, while a petition on www.petitionbuzz.com has garnered more than 140 signatures for the plan.

As part of the $3 million project, which also includes a small park where pedestrians and bicyclists can congregate, Batavia Enterprises plans to apply for $450,000 in tax increment financing funds from the city.

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