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Letter to the Editor: Drug Mart Encroaching on the Neighborhood

Resident says Discount Drug Mart would set a "risky precedent."

A proposal by Discount Drug Mart to encroach on residential property has disturbing implications and sets a risky precedent for all Lakewood residents. 

Drug Mart plans to build a 28,000 sq. ft. store with 92 parking spots on the former Ganley lot on Detroit Ave., straddling the corners of Grace and Cohasset avenues and serving as a gateway to this significant neighborhood of historic homes. 

Although many residents are concerned about Drug Mart’s impending location across the street from Garfield Middle School, the neighborhood is NOT anti-development. The Ganley lot is zoned for and needs a commercial tenant. Drug Mart’s plan, however, is not progress

Instead of restricting their store to the very large lot already zoned for them, Drug Mart purchased two residential properties on Grace next to the lot and now wants the city to grant them a Conditional Use Permit so they can raze the properties and expand their footprint into the midst of homeowners on Grace.

Dumpsters, driveways, noise, traffic and bright lights from a business open until midnight with a drive-thru will now characterize the street. 

Allowing a business to encroach on not one, but two residential properties will greatly alter the character of the neighborhood and is incompatible with Lakewood's vision of smart development and balance between residents and businesses.  

Allowing the permit blurs any transition between residential and commercial use and leaves homeowners across Lakewood wondering if their street will be next. The zoning code would lose its impact if, on any street, two residential lots could be changed to commercial.The balance of commercial on Detroit and other main thoroughfares and residential on most north/south streets would be lost.

Laughable “green space”

In addition, Drug Mart proposes a ridiculous buffer of “green space:” an unsightly stormwater detention basin. The parking lot would directly abut homeowners’ property, with no trees, grass or shrubs to provide a buffer from the increased noise, light and traffic. Allowing this only guarantees homeowners their turn to wonder, “Is my property next?” 

Lawful balance is needed

With six drug stores already being built or renovated in Lakewood, Drug Mart is hardly a unique business and deserves no special right to encroach on land already zoned for residential use.

Lakewood’s Planning and Zoning Code, Section1173.02(b)(4), sets clear boundaries on the destruction of buildings:

The City encourages conservation, preservation, redevelopment, and revitalization of residential neighborhoods to preserve their unique environments and for the public welfare of the City.  The City acknowledges as a matter of public policy that the preservation and protection of residential neighborhoods is required for the health, safety and welfare of the people.

Keep up the smart work!

Interestingly, the city just made a smart investment in this historic neighborhood by purchasing a rundown, unsafe boarding house on Grace that was a haven for criminal activity and child neglect. Residents worked closely with the city to effect a solution that removes this dangerous eyesore and allows the property to be developed into a single or double home, in keeping with the character of Lakewood’s residential footprint.

In that case, city officials made a thoughtful investment that benefits all of Lakewood. They now have a chance to demonstrate the same thoughtful leadership by denying Drug Mart a Conditional Use Permit, while continuing to invest in Lakewood for all citizens, not just a single commercial enterprise. That, in our view, is progress.

-Mary Grodek, and neighbors of Grace Avenue

Drug Mart will present their proposal to the city’s Planning Commission on June 7 at 7 pm at Lakewood City Hall. We urge everyone who is concerned about this issue to attend and voice their concerns.

Alexandra May 31, 2012 at 12:14 PM
What is the difference between an abandoned car dealership and a brand new functioning locally owned store that is designing the building with the neighborhood in mind? The new building will bring in fresh revenue to the city, a new clean building, additional employment. I live near the failed Rockport development and am fed up with looking at undeveloped properties. I am ok with Drug Mart building on the old Fairchild lot. The concept of progress seems to be a major issue of NIMBY here...
Alexandra May 31, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Believe it or not ALL of the drug stores have PLENTY of business. Lakewood has a large and growing elderly population. Lakewood being a walkable city gives these people easy access to get their needed medications.
Michael Ciccarello May 31, 2012 at 03:10 PM
The primary issue is NOT commercial development. It is the acquisition by Drug Mart of two residential properties adjacent to the existing (Ganley) commercial property to enlarge the property's footprint. Whether Drug Mart is best for this location can be debated, but encroaching on residential property to expand the commercial parcel, by ANY type business, is what is most alarming. So, it's less NIMBY and more NTMBY (not TAKING my back yard).
The original Bill May 31, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I agree with this. I am all for new development but to allow it to encroach into a neighborhood is very wrong. The homeowner who, when they purchased their house, had a house between them and the commercial property now finds their house abutting the commercial property. Totally wrong in my book and Lakewood should not allow this.
Edger May 31, 2012 at 03:37 PM
I do appreciate the jobs that businesses bring to communities as well the accessibility for shoppers, but haven't we learned from the past? Gas stations on every corner only cannibalized business from one and another. Big box & department stores have done the same when too many stores hit the area. It's time to wakeup and see that we are only spreading out the same existing consumer base. We need a new business in this area to draw more people in & that is how to grow a heathy community. Adding more of the same does not do this.
Mark Buckley May 31, 2012 at 03:50 PM
The issue (as Mary points out in her letter ) is the commercial encroachment of Drug Mart onto Grace. If Drug Mart wants to use the existing footprint of the Ganely . lot - well then fair play. We're all for commercial development on Detroit. Unfortunately Drug Mart wants the city's approval to demolsh 2 residential properties on Grace . This has immediate implications for the integrity of Grace and future serious implications for anyone who owns a home off either Detroit or Madison. Finally I would just like to add that at a meeting two weeks ago to discuss this issue the Director of Development for Lakewood used NIMBY in an attempt to deflect serious concerns, it was insulting then and it's insulting now.
Carl Roloff May 31, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Redevelopment of an available commercial property is expected in Lakewood and often a good thing for residents and the city. In this case, though, this new Drug Mart would replace the existing location further down Detroit Ave. While I expect the size of this store will mean more jobs than the old location, it is still a replacement, not an addition, and, therefore, won't result in a large net increase in jobs or improvement in access. That said, there's nothing wrong with a new Drug Mart location, but the current plan to expand the commercial lot into the residential area would mean that a number of homeowners would have the view from their front porch or back yard replaced with the view of a Drug Mart parking lot. No one wants that.
xv May 31, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Alexandra in response to your questions. 1) What is the difference between an abandoned car dealership and a brand new functioning locally owned store that is designing the building with the neighborhood in mind? If you would take the time to review the DrugMart building plans perhaps you would not have asked this question. The plan to demolish 2 residential homes, is not keeping the neighborhood in mind. Garfield Middle School is directly across the street. Perhaps the safety of the children should be considered. Are you aware that the City has already approved the construction of a Family Dollar store on the west side of Detroit and Grace Ave? 2) The new building will bring in fresh revenue to the city, a new clean building, additional employment. DrugMart will be closing the store just down Detroit Rd. and relocating. As far as a new clean building. Please look at how DrugMart has maintained their 2 current locations over the years.
xv May 31, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Part 2 3) I live near the failed Rockport development and am fed up with looking at undeveloped properties. I am ok with Drug Mart building on the old Fairchild lot. Contact you Counsel person, and complain to them. Inquiry about how the City is pressuring the Forest City development group, and their lack of progress of their grand plans of development. If the property were a residential property the City would be all over the property owner to maintain, and finish the project. 4) The concept of progress seems to be a major issue of NIMBY here... I quote Mark Buckley "The issue (as Mary points out in her letter ) is the commercial encroachment of Drug Mart onto Grace. If Drug Mart wants to use the existing footprint of the Ganely . lot - well then fair play. We're all for commercial development on Detroit. Unfortunately Drug Mart wants the city's approval to demolsh 2 residential properties on Grace . This has immediate implications for the integrity of Grace and future serious implications for anyone who owns a home off either Detroit or Madison. Finally I would just like to add that at a meeting two weeks ago to discuss this issue the Director of Development for Lakewood used NIMBY in an attempt to deflect serious concerns, it was insulting then and it's insulting now."
Lakewoodite May 31, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Drug Mart is much better than the Strip Club that was also looking at the location. People here seem to fight anything. Let the people on Grace who's properties Drug Mart wants to buy sell if they want to. There are many worse neighbors than Drugmart!
xv June 01, 2012 at 09:03 AM
Lakewoodite Really a strip club? From a reliable source I'm sure! We are not fighting the development of the property, just the encroachment into the residential zoned area.
Alex Vandehoff June 01, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Maybe Steve is lobbying for the strip club, as he was for the Sloane McD's site.... http://lakewood-oh.patch.com/articles/detroit-theatre-demolition-mcdonald-s-construction-set-to-begin
M-F Schreiber June 01, 2012 at 02:48 PM
These properties weren't for sale. But as they say: Money talks, BS walks! The way I see it, homeowners shouldn't sell out to commercial development. If your wish is to sell your home, sell it to a potential homeowner. If you wish to sell your apartment building, sell it to another property management company or landlord. There were long-standing tenants in that apartment building, who now have had to relocate. Disrupting peoples lives and a neighborhood is at the heart of the matter. Whatever commercial entity is interested in redevelopping this site should remain within the boundaries of the original footprint of the former business and stop encroaching on adjacent properties. If Dollar General can build within the original footprint, then why can't Drug Mart. My point!
Steve June 01, 2012 at 04:06 PM
@Alex, you people need to lighten up, that was meant for humor, not etched in stone. A pun. Get a life, please...
Michael Ciccarello June 03, 2012 at 12:38 AM
The nature of/type of business to be developed, and its location can always be debated. Drug Mart; Family Dollar; strip club/bar; fast food restaurant, etc. The Ganley auto dealership that moved on, left the site vacant for a considerable period of time. Consequently, the property has been a blighting influence on the neighborhood and there is no resident that would not like to see the site redeveloped. Perhaps the City could be (have been) more proactive in seeking a development strategy with area residents in situations like this soon after the site is vacated, and seeking the type of business that is mutually decided as best. Well, it did not happen for this site and the City finds itself reacting to development proposals, first from Family Dollar and now Drug Mart. As a resident on Grace Avenue, I am not happy with either business but will accept the fact that it is proposed and likely will be completed. What I am strongly opposed to is the proposed encroachment into our residential neighborhood (Drug Mart seeking to purchase to properties to expand its commercial footprint). I believe that Drug Mart's proposal has been revised to now only demolish one structure (multifamily apartment building), but that is still unacceptable. And I am concerned with the potential impact on the neighborhood e.g., traffic, noise. We will air our concerns at the June 7th Planning Commission meeting and see what comes from that. All should attend!
Elbur1 June 28, 2012 at 09:17 AM
What is going to happen to the existing Drug Mart property just east of this location? Has anyone done a study to measure the demand for another store like Drug Mart? Do we need another? Can Lakewood support another one of these kinds of places?

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