Hinesville Planning Commission Says No to Walgreens - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports


Hinesville Planning Commission Says No to Walgreens

It's an issue every developing city has to deal with: people who don't want the development in their backyards. It's gotten tempers flaring in one Hinesville neighborhood over the last few months.

Walgreens has been hoping to open a pharmacy at one of the busiest intersections in town. Anyone who's driven through Hinesville knows what it's like at General Screven Way and Highway 84. But yesterday, the planning commission came back with a resounding recommendation that the city council not approve the project.

It's been a proposed project that has not made for happy neighbors. "I guess animosity would be a good word," said Perry Neely.

Walgreens' request to change the zoning for five residential properties to commercial is going to be an uphill battle from here on out, with the planning commission's recommendation that the city council deny it.

"If you were to allow a variance request like this, we would have created a a situation where other commercial developments could seek--and logically expect--to receive the same variance," said Sonny Timmerman, who sits on the planning commission.

Despite the commission's unanimous vote, Walgreens isn't giving up. They've got one last chance at a May 4 city council meeting. "Many projects that have been denied in a planning commission and have been approved on the city level," noted Russel Rankenburg, VP of development with the company. "So that's what we'll be shooting for."

Walgreens representatives say, if you take a look at the number of cars that come through this intersection at any given time, you get a good idea of why exactly they want to settle here. "It's the highest traffic count in the City of Hinesville," said Rankenburg. "And it's the site Walgreens approved."

But the neighborhood behind that intersection has been fighting the project ever since residents caught wind of the plan, and what it would mean to them. Neighbor Perry Neely cited "the back of a Walgreens, the loading zones, the noise, the wall, the lights, the new road funneling traffic straight from the highway into our neighborhood, which is now quiet."

Planning commissioners say they're not opposed to a Walgreens somewhere in town, but not where it's being proposed this time. So far, Walgreens has no alternate plans to build in Hinesville if this falls through completely. But they're not ruling it out.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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