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.