CVS Project Paused As Developers Pull Permit To Rezone

CARRBORO – The developers for the proposed CVS on N. Greensboro Street withdrew their conditional use permit Tuesday night, meaning that the current version of the project will need to be drastically altered if it comes in front of the Board of Aldermen at a later date.

“They pulled their request for a public hearing on the conditional use permit and rezoning because I think it was clear to them that they were not going to be able to get the rezoning,” says Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton. “The conditional use permit that was proposed could not have been approved without the rezoning being approved. I think it was clear to them that this was going nowhere tonight.”

The project required a conditional use permit, or C.U.P., because the scope of the project necessitated the rezoning of three lots whose current zoning did not allow the proposed development.

The lots that the developers were originally requesting to be rezoned were planned as parking lots to help alleviate the transition from high-density commercial to the residential lots on Center Street. But Carrboro Planning Director Trish McGuire says the rezoning was still needed on those lots since the parking would have been associated with the development.

“If parking is needed for high-volume use, it is like a high-volume retail use from a use classification perspective,” says McGuire, “so it cannot go into a zoning district that does not support that use.”

While the most recent plan is all but dead, a CVS-based development at a smaller scale could still be proposed assuming it meets the zoning requirements at the same location, or potentially in another part of town. Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton says he expects the developers to have a new proposal soon.

“The board has decided to not consider any type of rezoning there,” says Chilton. “It might be possible for them to put forward an application for a drug store—several of those lots are currently zoned for commercial development—but it will have to be considerably different application than they have so far.”

But Carrboro resident Michele Rivest says that the main issues residents have with the project are not related to scale as much the impact of a CVS in that neighborhood.

“All of the issues of CVS’s business model, the 24/7 nature, and the traffic, noise and light pollution, they’re still going to be there. I don’t know where the smaller scale is going to matter. Most of what was going to happen on Center Street was the parking lot.”

The developers of the project, Kimley-Horn and Associatesasked the Board of Aldermen late Friday afternoon to postpone the hearing until April. That request was ultimately denied by the board, and the developers chose instead to not go through with the public hearing.

Carrboro Town Hall was packed for the meeting, with the entire main chamber full with several seated on the floor. The audience also filled the lobby while others watched the meeting on a television across the hall. Chilton says he wasn’t surprised by the turnout.

“One of the things I love about Carrboro is that we have a very active and involved citizenry—people are engaged with their local government,” says Chilton. “I think it’s great that so many people came to speak tonight.”

Chilton also cited the importance of the building’s location as another motivating factor for the increased participation.

Carrboro Planning Board Votes Against CVS Rezoning

CARRBORO- In a 4-3 vote, with four members absent, Carrboro’s planning board voted Thursday to recommend that the Board of Aldermen deny the rezoning request needed to build a CVS pharmacy at one of the busiest intersections in town.

“Its not that this project is, in itself, some sort of horrible, evil project, or that somehow the town code is just totally, horribly wrong for this block, it’s just that they’re not compatible,” said planning board vice-chair Damon Seils. “This particular proposal is just not compatible with what’s available to be done on this block.”

The project would fill almost the entire block bounded by North Greensboro, Weaver, Center and Short Streets. Plans call for a two story mixed use building on the site currently occupied by a vacant building. The rest of the site would be dominated by parking lots, with a “mini-park” at the northwestern edge of the property facing Center Street.

This is the second time the planning board has voted against approval of the project. Last year the board rejected the plan due to concerns about zoning, lighting and neighborhood protection. Developers put the project on hold for nearly a year while they revised the proposal.

This time, planning board members said the applicant had responded well to community concerns about aesthetics, lighting and building design, but that ultimately the project failed to provide a smooth transition from commercial to residential areas.

And while board members embraced the high-volume 24-hour retail center proposed for the corner of North Greensboro and Weaver Street, several argued that converting two nearby mill houses into a parking lot is not a creative use of valuable downtown real estate.

“If this plan had proposed to put in two brand new mill houses there, to be used for commercial purposes that ended at midnight or even earlier, I’d be leaping up to say ‘yeah, that’s a great plan,’” said Matthew Barton. “But that’s not the plan we have.”

Should the aldermen choose to approve the rezoning, the planning board suggested that they push for reduced parking on the site. But that proposal didn’t sit well with Nathan Milian, who manages Carr Mill Mall across the road where CVS is currently located.

“Whatever you do, don’t ask them to reduce the parking they have,” Milian told the board. “This is the number two CVS in the state of North Carolina, so there’s a big difference between the volume that this store does and the volume of the local drugstore down the street, which means tremendous parking issues. Carr Mill Mall has tremendous parking issues.”

The CVS project has sparked debate and even protest over the past two years about how and where Carrboro should grow. That debate will continue next Tuesday, when the Board of Aldermen holds a public hearing on the revised plan.