Petaluma Walgreens plan stokes drive-thru debate

A Petaluma Health Care District proposal to build a Walgreens drug store and drive-through pharmacy near its hospital is setting up a showdown of conflicting goals.

The city's general plan, its guiding blueprint for development, expressly forbids new drive-thrus in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. The only exceptions are for vehicle-serving businesses such as car washes or oil-change stations.

But the health care district is arguing that its Walgreens drive-thru should be allowed because of the medical benefits of having a pharmacy easily accessible to Petaluma Valley Hospital patients.

Its supporters argue that the emissions from idling vehicles won't be significant and can be outweighed by other environmentally friendly elements of the project.

At issue is a retail development that includes a 7,500-square-foot office building and a 14,500-square-foot Walgreens with a drive-thru pharmacy. Browman Development of Walnut Creek is developing the project on district land at McDowell Boulevard and Lynch Creek Way, just south of the Deer Creek Village shopping center under construction now.

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