Neighbors protest new business on the block

Neighbors protest new business on the block
By: Carly O'Keefe
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Dozens of residents packed a Carbondale Planning Commission meeting Wednesday night in protest of rezoning 10 parcels of land in Carbondale's Arbor District Neighborhood from residential to commercial. The rezoning would make way for a 24-hour CVS Pharmacy.
Wednesday night CVS representatives said the company has considered other properties in town, but the corner of Walnut and Oakland is the only location on Carbondale's west side that meets their requirements for building the new pharmacy.
"This project is very important to CVS." said Margaret Hewitt of Cedarwood Developments representing CVS. "CVS has been in the Carbondale community for 20 years, we plan to stay in the community, we plan to expand, and we plan to grow. In order to do that, we need a new location. That's why we're here today is because the location we've identified as the best for us is at Walnut and Oakland."
Many area residents disagree with the location CVS believes to be the best. A petition with 449 signatures was presented to the planning commission in opposition to the rezoning.
"This is the only place on Highway13 east and west that's still a neighborhood, and it's a vibrant neighborhood," said Arbor District Neighborhood Association President Sandy Litecky.
Litecky has posted yard signs throughout the area to fight the rezoning. She's worried that if Walnut and Oakland Street corner houses a business, instead of a family, other businesses will soon work their way down the block.    
"The pressure's going to be on to do other commercial properties and it's just going to destroy the neighborhood," said Litecky.
Future development isn't what worries Arbor District resident Phyllis Patterson. Right now, she's more concerned about the proposed 24-hour CVS drive-thru pharmacy that's slated to go in next door.
"I don't think anyone would want to be eight feet from a drive-up 24-hour service, and that's what I'll have," Patterson.
Patterson has lived on Walnut Street for 65 years. Over the years, she's seen the area build up around her and Oakland Avenue transform from a gravel road to a major thoroughfare. But she's never been as afraid of those changes as she is of the proposed business building in her back yard.
"My home won't be worth much as a residence if I've got a business next door with a drive thru," said Patterson.
The planning commission voted unanimously Wednesday night against rezoning the area. However the rezoning can still go through if the city council votes to approve it in their meeting December 5th.