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City council turns down CVS plans for third time

After more than an hour of public comment Tuesday night, the Columbia City Council turned down CVS Pharmacy’s plan to build a store downtown. It’s the third time the company has proposed a plan for the corner of Providence Road and Broadway since 2013.

The council voted 4-3 against letting CVS build a sewer line from the store to Fourth Street. City staff would then approve the design of the building itself.

Council members in support of the plan felt the store, with the new sewer line, would improve downtown by offering more jobs.

“This moves us in the right direction,” Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp said, voting for the plan.

Mayor Bob McDavid and Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser also voted for it.

Sixth Ward Councilwoman Betsy Peters voted against the plan, hoping CVS would continue to work with the city to come up with a plan more “appropriate for the area.” Councilmen Clyde Ruffin, Ian Thomas and Karl Skala also voted against the proposal.

The council voted against CVS’ last proposal in April because of the placement of the sewer line. Public Works director John Glascock said then it would be expensive to work on the sewer line since most of it ran under the building, as well as part of the busy Providence Road.

Many that spoke at the meeting were wary that the council, and public, would not see the building design before city staff eventually approved it. Some council members in April rejected the plan because it did not meet certain requirements for the interim C-2 zoning downtown, in particular, the use of a second floor. The zoning rules require a minimum of two, and a maximum of four, floors in C-2 zoned lots, like the corner of Providence and Broadway. However, some questioned CVS’ use of the second floor, since it did not span the entirety of the store’s first floor.

Robert Hollis, a Columbia lawyer representing CVS, said the second floor would be used as a break room and office space.

Peters felt the store needed a useful second floor before she would approve any plans for the store to continue to build.

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