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Durham Residents Fight Against Pharmacy

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DURHAM — A rezoning request in Durham has brought together two neighborhoods, united to stop a pharmacy from building in their front yards.

TheTuscaloosa-Lakewood Neighborhood Associationrepresents mostly middle class residents who are working with the more affluent Forest Hills neighborhood group to prevent theDurham City Councilfrom approving a rezoning request that would put a CVS pharmacy nearby.

The two-acre piece of land has generateda petitionwith 810 signatures.

Some residents who oppose the rezoning say they do not want to lose houses to the project.

"By taking that out of what's starting to be a stable neighborhood, you destroy what we here are proud to say is happening," says Beverly Torain.

The land sits at a four-way intersection where three corners already have businesses, but residents believe the pharmacy would cut much deeper into their neighborhood.

Opponent Jennifer Albright says that is in part because of the adjustments required to allow for traffic into and out of the pharmacy's parking lot.

The company planning the project says it has bent over backwards to please neighbors.

"I've met with this property owner, and he had some specific ideas about plantings," says senior planner Pat Mallett.

The company adds that if the site is not approved for a pharmacy, there is really only one alternative: "high-density residential units for rent probably, along a major boulevard," Mallett says. "It's not a good situation to have."

This rezoning request is a tough vote for Durham leaders. The city's Inter-Neighborhood Council is watching closely.

"With a somewhat new council, neighborhood leaders are going to be looking at this as a bellwether, as an indicator of how sensitive to neighborhood's needs they really are," says council president Stan Hoffman.

City council members who spoke with WRAL said they were undecided on the issue.

There will be a public hearing on the rezoning Tuesday, January 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Durham City Hall.


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