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East County Wednesday, Jul. 14, 2010 7 years ago

Opposition continues battle over Tara project

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

TARA — Representatives of the Tara community are moving forward with plans to thwart the development of a parcel at the southwest entrance to their East County community.

The 12 Oaks Advisory Committee, which represents more than 1,200 residents who have signed a petition against the proposal and other modifications sought by Tara’s developer, has taken its battle directly to the CEO and other top officers of Walgreens.

Although Walgreens has not announced it is looking at the site, the committee sent a letter to top executives in May, pleading their case that the development of the site at State Road 70 and Tara Boulevard would cause traffic problems and other concerns.

A follow-up letter from the committee’s chair, Bill Pastori, went out July 6 after members did not receive any response from Walgreens officials.

“This one is a little more confrontational,” Pastori said, adding he was disappointed not to get any sort of response to the first letter. “It just reiterated the four or five primary points we have (for objecting to the site).”

The one-page letter states the location would be nearly impossible for Tara residents to frequent safely and construction of the store would result in demolished wetlands.

It also could potentially cause traffic noise and an increase in criminal activity, and would destroy the aesthetics at the community’s entrance, among other concerns.

Walgreens spokesperson Tiffany Washington said she was not aware of the letter sent to officials and that Walgreens does not have any contracts on the property. She also said she is not aware of any inquiries by Walgreens about the site.

John Agnelli, Lake Lincoln’s senior vice president, said he is not in discussion with any businesses and does not have any potential contracts on the property, but it likely would be best suited for a bank or drugstore.

Pastori said he is not convinced discussions are not under way, and he would rather be proactive about the possibility.

“Something else could come in, but the developer in his first application cited it was a perfect location for a CVS-type store,” Pastori said. “With a CVS across the street, it’s (natural to think a Walgreens would develop nearby).”

But whether Walgreens or another entity develops the property, residents remain concerned with how development of the site will impact the community visually and about traffic at an intersection that has already been deemed dangerous.

“You would think it would be a convenience to the community, but we can’t access it without taking our lives into our hands,” Pastori said of the site.  “We don’t want the area behind our entrance sign, which is the first thing (people) see when they (come in to Tara) to be destroyed.”

There are also concerns about security lighting, night deliveries and the potential for crime for residents of Fairway Gardens II, a duplex neighborhood that abuts the property in question.

Lake Lincoln, formerly Tara-Manatee, requested more than six months ago to make additional changes its development of regional impact for the Tara project. Public hearings for the proposals have been postponed several times.

Residents did not oppose a request to add an adult assisted living facility use or for clarification for the location of a mini warehouse use. Both concepts were allowed in the previous DRI. Residents, however, are still opposing the potential commercial development of the wetland parcel and the approval of a land use equivalency matrix, which ultimately allows for additional commercial development in lieu of un-built residential units.

At the request of residents, the developer has withdrawn its request to place a telecommunications tower on the commercial part of the property.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

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