Downtown Leadership Council, Historical Preservation Commission object to rezoning request

The rezoning request has been tabled to be presented until the Sept. 5 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

The Historic Preservation Commission and the Downtown Columbia Leadership Council have asked City Council to reject a rezoning request to build CVS Pharmacy.

During a meeting Tuesday, the DCLC met with Robert Hollis, the attorney representing CVS Pharmacy, to discuss their concerns with the rezoning request. The requests asks for permission to build a CVS Pharmacy on the southeast corner of Providence Road and Broadway, DCLC Chairman Brent Gardner said.

"The attorney representing CVS showed up and there was some back-and-forth between us,” Gardner said. “There was quite a bit of sentiment that this is the wrong location for the pharmacy."

Councilman Ian Thomas, who attended part of the meeting on Tuesday, said he would be looking at the benefits of business downtown and pedestrian safety concerns when the rezoning proposition is brought to city council.

“I haven’t looked at all of the details, but in general a business coming into the downtown area is a good thing,” Thomas said. “But I have heard that this store will have a drive-thru, and I am not a fan of drive-thrus in largely pedestrian areas. That is one thing I will be looking at when it comes to the council.”

Some of the other main concerns are with the aesthetic look of the building and the busy traffic in that area, Gardner said.

"It is right at the entrance of downtown, the back will face Broadway, and traffic in and out will be cumbersome," Gardner said. "CVS has a very suburban design. Downtown is urban, multistory. (CVS) is not a urban design, it is a suburban design."

Thomas said meeting attendees also discussed alternatives to the CVS.

“One thing we talked about was a gateway to the downtown area at Broadway and Fourth and the possibility of narrowing Broadway and creating an attractive pedestrian crossing at that location,” Thomas said. “I support that as being a gateway to downtown Columbia.”

The DCLC drafted a letter to the Planning and Zoning Commission expressing its concerns over the rezoning request. A letter will also be sent to the city council, Gardner said.

"We have already written the letter and sent it to Planning and Zoning," Gardner said. "It should be sent to city council before their next meeting on Tuesday."

In the letter, the DCLC proposed alternative ideas for development at the intersection.

“The city owns more than 8,000 square feet of property at this major intersection to Columbia’s downtown that could be the future location of signature landscaping and signage to downtown, downtown gateway, public art, green space and extension of MKT trailhead,” the letter stated. “Instead of accepting the applicant’s request for deeded right-of-use, the City of Columbia should begin land acquisition for the expansion of Flat Branch Park.”

The rezoning request was originally scheduled to be presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission during the Aug. 8 meeting, but it was instead advertised for the Aug. 22 meeting.

The applicant, Mark Stevenson who owns the lot on which CVS would be built, then submitted a request for tabling to the Sept. 5 meeting, City Planner Steve MacIntyre said.

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