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Lawyers for CVS approached the East Greenwich Town Council Sept. 7 and asked the town to remove a provision from its zoning ordinances that disallows the South County Trail pharmacy from operating a Minute Clinic.

Patricia Rocha of the Providence law firm Adler, Pollock & Sheehan asked the council to delete a portion of a 2008 zoning ordinance that states the proposed CVS pharmacy at 1285 South County Trail “shall not include a ‘minute clinic’ for the diagnosis and/or treatment of customers and/or patients.”

Rocha stated that when CVS acquired Minute Clinic in 2008, the pharmacy had no plans to open clinics in Rhode Island stores. However, CVS received approval from the state Department of Health in May 2014 to open seven Minute Clinics, including the one in East Greenwich that opened in December and has served more than 1,000 patients since that time, he said.

Rocha also noted that company officials were unaware of the condition in the town’s ordinance, which was brought to their attention by Building and Zoning Official Wayne Pimentel.

The original concern in 2008 about having a Minute Clinic at the pharmacy was traffic at the intersection of South County Trail and Division Street, and the “unknown” given there weren’t any in-store clinics in Rhode Island at the time, Rocha said.

Bob Clinton, a transportation engineer who works for Vanasse, Hangen and Brustlin Inc., recently performed a traffic analysis and, based on traffic counts, he found there would be “no significant traffic impacts” associated with the existing Minute Clinic on South County Trail, Rocha told councilors.

Councilor Bill Stone addressed procedural concerns about amending the ordinance, such as providing proper notice to abutting landowners and whether or not to ask the town’s Planning Board for a recommendation. Carolyn Castel of CVS Health told The Independent Tuesday afternoon that CVS would be responsible for notifying the landowners of the amendment, if changed.

Town Planner Lisa Bourbonnais said Monday the 2008 restriction was put in place because no one knew what a Minute Clinic was, or how popular it would be. Now, “[Minute Clinics] are all over [the state],” she said.

As a medical facility and a combination of mixed retail use-pharmacy, it is permitted “by right” to operate a Minute Clinic in that zone, Bourbonnais said, and the Town Council would have the final say on removing the condition in the ordinance.

Council President Michael Isaacs, who served on the council when the ordinance was amended in 2008, offered his support to remove ordinance restriction in a “procedurally correct manner.”

The council will revisit CVS’s request at its next meeting Sept. 28.

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