Thursday, July 31, 2008
Rite Aid Asks Again
Our downtown has sprouted another Zoning notice, this time on the new building going up on the corner of Union and Main. The site of the former Middletown Press building is under construction as a 2-story building that will reportedly house a re-located Rite Aid pharmacy, an unnamed retail or restaurant tenant, and upper floor office space for the developer, Centerplan.
This is not the first time that this property has sought relief from zoning regulations -- prior to construction, they had to get approval for their plans to add a drive-thru window to the back of the pharmacy space, and a variance because they only had 40 ft. for the drive-thru lane instead of the required 200 ft. In the B-1 zone of downtown, drive-thru windows are currently restricted, unless allowed by Special Exception of the Planning and Zoning Commission. This restriction came about in the 1990's, during a round of zoning reforms that were intended to help the downtown capitalize on its assets -- as a walkable, commercial neighborhood of mainly historic buildings. This was controversial at the time, as it meant that we were basically saying no to any new chain restaurants (remember Burger King on Main Street?) and the concern was that downtown could not afford to turn away any potential new tenants. But Main Street has in fact thrived under these regulations, and it can hardly be denied that the zoning restriction within downtown has pushed much of the car-oriented fast food and donut shop development to other areas of town -- with its resulting acres of asphalt and short-term architectural values.
But I digress.
Their upcoming application regards signage. They are applying to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance -- I understand that they would like to add additional signs on the sidewalk, which are not allowed. They are currently scheduled to make their appeal at the August 7th meeting of the ZBA.