Sunday, October 2, 2022

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
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Defunct pharmacy could be rezoned for medical offices

Burlington’s planning and zoning commission has endorsed a rezoning request that would restore a healthcare-related use to a defunct pharmacy along Harden Street that the county is currently leasing for the storage of election equipment.

A majority of the commission extended its blessing to this proposal during a “virtual,” or online, meeting last Monday after a representative of the property owner provided some detail about the building’s prospective sale to a company that specializes in the operation of medical clinics.

Frank Longest, a Burlington-based lawyer in the employ of Cockman Family Enterprises, reminded commission’s members that his client’s property at 378 Harden Street was previously home to the Medicap pharmacy and remains well suited for some sort of healthcare-adjacent use. Longest went on to note that the site’s assets have attracted the notice of ChenMed, a multistate firm that develops and runs medical offices.

In order to facilitate ChenMed’s plans for this site, Longest has asked the city to tweak the property’s conditional “zoning” to add medical offices to the currently permitted use of pharmaceutical sales. The owner’s attorney also asked for the removal of a square footage cap in the terms of the existing zoning due to an expansion of the building that he conceded “somehow” occurred after the zoning went into effect.

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Longest’s presentation to the city’s planning commission did leave some unanswered questions for the group’s vice chairman John Black.

“Will this be a kind of what they call a ‘doc in a box’ kind of deal?” he inquired of Longest during the virtual meeting.

“Their concept,” the attorney replied, “is healthcare given to a wide populace and the populace they’re really trying to scope in on are Medicare[-eligible] senior citizens.”

Black nevertheless cast the lone dissenting vote against the request’s endorsement, citing other lingering questions about operating hours, traffic, and potential light pollution.

“Because of the people who live around it,” he said before the 6-to-1 vote, “we have [to do our] due diligence to make sure everybody meets a happy ending.”

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