City Council rejects controversial request to build Walgreens

by: Jeff Smith Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - City Council rejected a controversial rezoning request to build a drive-through Walgreens in Dilworth.

The rezoning request lost by a vote of 9-3 Monday night. Dozens of Dilworth homeowners erupted in cheers and applause after the vote.

"It's a relief, it is. And I think everybody who is here tonight feels that sense of relief," said homeowner George Sawyer.

Several buildings would have had to be torn down to build the Walgreens. Many residents say it would have destroyed a part of the neighborhood's historical charm.

"I have two young children and didn't want the increased traffic. And I'm proud of our city for maintaining some character," said Holly Wood.

Developer Lincoln Harris Has tried for months to get city council to rezone the intersection of Kenilworth Avenue and East Morehead Street. All they wanted, they said, was to build a neighborhood pharmacy and some office space.

But homeowners said the plan for a Walgreens with a drive-through and late closing hours was unacceptable.

"To add traffic coming in and out of a drug store at all hours of the day and night is just going to exacerbate a bad situation," Sawyer said.

Residents called, emailed and confronted council members for months. Dozens of homeowners put up signs in their front yards to protest the rezoning request.

"It just feels good to have some finality to it," Wood said.

That finality will likely be very short-lived, because Lincoln-Harris said it'll develop the property early next year no matter what.

In fact, the company's vice president emailed Dilworth homeowners Monday saying the alternative project -- whatever it is -- will be bigger than the Walgreens proposal, and he "guaranteed" it would hurt property values.