Developers hoping to build a Walgreens pharmacy off Route 175 at Thunder Hill Road in Columbia won approval for their plan from a county hearing examiner Tuesday. The 25-page decision reversed an April rejection of the plan by the county Planning Board.
Michele L. LeFaivre, the hearing examiner, ruled that the State Highway Administration and county traffic and planning officials showed convincingly that access to the site, where a former bank building has sat empty for years, would be safe.
She said the planning board erred in not accepting an SHA opinion favoring revised plans for a 163-foot deceleration lane for vehicles coming off Route 175 and turning right into the site without turning first onto Twin Knolls Road, which is the only current access. Diane Schwarzman, the county's chief of traffic engineering, also approved the newer plan.
The Oakland Mills Village Board also supported the specially designed Walgreens, arguing that it will be a vast improvement over the empty bank and will serve the nearby village center, which has no pharmacy.
Barbara Russell, one of a group of residents who oppose the store, said they are considering pursuing legal action to block it.
- Larry Carson