SAN RAMON -- A group of Windemere residents are riled up over a proposal to build a Walgreens store at the northwest corner of Windemere Parkway and Bollinger Canyon Road.
About 100 petition signatures had been gathered by this past weekend to present the city concerning the project, which would be built on the site of a former 2,160-square-foot Windemere Welcome Home Center on a 1-acre site that closed up shop a few years ago after the builder sold the last of its homes. Opponents say the planned 14,408-square-foot, 36-foot-high earth-toned building with stucco walls, wooden trellises and tile roof would be the only retail business in the area, disrupting the character of the residential neighborhood and increasing crime and traffic there.
"And I have heard from several other tenants who are the first homebuyers, and all of them feel that if they had known there would be a Walgreens here they wouldn't have bought in this community," said Arvind Goel, who is on the board of the Ambridge Homeowners Association and who helped to put together the petition. He said that he and other residents believed that a day care or educational center might be built there instead.
"It was a big surprise to me -- a shock, and it was very disappointing," he said about learning of the proposal last month.
He and a number of other residents of the Ambridge and Canyon Oaks communities, which consist of townhomes, condos and apartments, are located next door, just west of the proposed store.
"They are all disappointed and very disheartened, because no one can imagine a retail store in our community -- right in the middle of it," he said. "Every time we leave or enter the community, we are looking at the Walgreens. It's going to a huge detriment to our community. Everyone is very upset."
Jesse Love, another Ambridge resident, said that he and others fear that the store will increase vehicle and transient foot traffic, noise, litter and pollution in the neighborhood.
Also they say they are dismayed the store might sell tobacco-related smoking products and alcohol not far from various schools, such as Dougherty Valley High School, Gale Ranch Middle School, Windemere Ranch Middle School and Diablo Valley College and that the store's delivery trucks would likely use Rockhampton Road, next to the community, disturbing residents and increasing traffic problems.
Yet, the property already is zoned for commercial use, so no change in zoning is needed for the project, said Shinei Tsukamoto, the city's associate planner on the project.
The applicant, Walnut Creek-based Browman Development Co., bought the property in December 2012, and its design for the store went up before the Architectural Review Board in June. And now Browman must get the necessary approvals from the Planning Commission to build.
The commission could hold a public hearing on the proposal as early as September, though no date has been set yet, Tsukamoto said. And all residents within 300 feet of the proposed business will be sent notices of the hearing date 10 days in advance so they can attend.
The store would be one of the smallest Walgreens builds, but it will need extra space to build a proper-sized parking lot based to the city's requirements, Tsukamoto said. For that reason, Browman is also requesting use of the adjoining Bollinger Canyon Road's right-of-way, on which a future light-rail corridor has been envisioned (though not yet planned). The land could be reclaimed by the city later if needed, Tsukamoto said.
Aaron Zuzack, of Browman, declined to comment. Bill Gunn of J. Rockcliff Realtors, who has sold Windemere homes for the past 10 years, said that the building of a Walgreens in the area would be detrimental to home sales in the area.
"What an eyesore it would be," he said. "It would be a major impact on people selling homes in there."
Contact Joyce Tsai at 925-847-2123.