Mount Airy planning board OKs site plan for Rite Aid

Entrances must change, sidewalk lengthen

August 31, 1999|By Jennifer Sullivan | Jennifer Sullivan,SUN STAFF

The Mount Airy Planning and Zoning Committee unanimously approved a site plan last night for an 11,068-square-foot Rite Aid drugstore. The freestanding building with a drive-up pharmacy would replace a smaller store in the Mount Airy Shopping center.

The five-member panel met with engineers from Linthicum-based BL Companies for 90 minutes before the vote, discussing entrances and exits for the proposed store facing Ridge- ville Boulevard along Route 27 and Ridgeside Drive.

"It's the most dangerous intersection we've got," said Keith Gehle, committee chairman. "The buck has to stop somewhere, and we need to do what's safe for the community."

After discussing possible ways to change the store, the plan was approved with the condition that engineers combine two proposed entrances on Ridgeside Drive into one; the drugstore chain must install a flashing red light on Ridgeville Boulevard; and the sidewalk along Ridgeville Boulevard must be improved and lengthened to the intersection of Route 27.

The plan goes before the Town Council for approval. The council is expected to consider the plan next month.

Planning an opening date is difficult for Rite Aid because the company is entangled in a lawsuit with the owners of the shopping center.

Owners of the Mount Airy Shopping Center want Rite Aid of Maryland Inc. to forget about a provision in the drugstore's 1972 lease -- when the Rite Aid was a Drug Fair -- that states that the shopping center owners cannot lease space to or permit a competing business within a two-mile radius.

In November, the town planning commission unanimously approved plans for an 85,000-square-foot Wal-Mart on 14 acres behind the Mount Airy Shopping Center, near Route 27 and Ridgeville Boulevard. The land is owned by the shopping center.

But until the rights of Rite Aid are determined by a court, Wal-Mart has refused to execute a contract of sale. A spokesman from Wal-Mart could not be reached yesterday to comment about the status of the Mount Airy site.

The dispute centers on a restrictive covenant that precludes, "any other drug store, variety store or photo-finishing business, or any store whose primary business is the sale of patent medicines, health and beauty aids, cosmetics, lawn and garden or outdoor living merchandise."

Wal-Mart isn't a part in the lawsuit -- only the shopping center and Rite Aid are.

A spokeswoman for the Camp Hill, Pa.,-based drugstore chain declined to comment on the pending lawsuit.

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