JOHNSON CITY - Johnson City leaders this week shot down a measure that would have facilitated one new Walgreens pharmacy while giving final approval to bring another into the city.
With many residents turning out for second reading of a rezoning item that concerns a proposed development featuring a Walgreens pharmacy and a bank on North Roan Street in the Boones Creek area, the City Commission was split on which way to vote. The panel ultimately turned down the rezoning and accompanying site plan by a vote of 3-2.
One group of residents opposed the measure due to worries about increased traffic and encroachment by commercial interests on a residential area, and the other group supported the measure largely because commercial development seems inevitable and property values are likely to rise with commercial prospects.
Myrtle Tate, 4200 N. Roan St., lamented her area's shift from residential to commercial but said circumstances have brought her to support the prospect of development.
"What else have I got to lose?" Tate said.
Others, such as Harold Hall, 108 Darnell Drive, stand on the other side of the proverbial fence.
"What business is going to buy my house?" Hall said. "We don't think this will add anything to beautify our little subdivision."
Hall urged the commissioners to fulfill their duty in representing the best interests of the citizens.
"We, as citizens, have no control," Hall said.
Vice Mayor Phil Roe and Commissioners Pete Paduch and Ricky Mohon voted against the rezoning. Mayor Steve Darden and Commissioner Jane Myron voted in favor.
"We have a dilemma," Roe said. "That's the hottest area growing in town. I think there's going to be continuing pressure to make this corner commercial."
Darden said this matter was different than most controversial rezoning items.
"The neighborhood is not united against the business," Darden said.
M&M Development Co. representatives said they would likely return soon with a different site plan for residents and city officials to consider.
Any development in the area would basically be an extension of the B-1 (business zone) that currently exists at the corner of North Roan and Carroll Creek Road.
The proposal shows a 14,000-square-foot freestanding pharmacy and a 6,000-square-foot freestanding bank, said Jim Gerrard of M&M. Long Range Planning Director Steve Nielson said the B-1 designation would provide "a good transition" for the area as opposed to more liberal zoning designations that would allow more types of uses.
In related business, the commission unanimously approved third and final reading of an annexation on Bobby Hicks Highway in Gray that will take in a new Walgreens there.
By annexing the development before it opens for business, the city will reap all sales tax collections. If a business begins operations prior to annexation, the county collects all, or nearly all, sales taxes for 15 years.