The Englewood City Council voted 6-1 on Dec. 16 to give second-and-final reading approval to an ordinance which changes the zoning to allow for a Chick-fil-A drive-thru restaurant at Dartmouth and Broadway. The new zoning is for a planned unit development, allowing the project to move forward and be built.
In addition to the zoning change for the restaurant, the council approved on second reading the subdivision amendment to include the vacant land and two houses in the planned unit development that will be included in the project. Zoning for the two areas was previously MUB2 and MURA.
Audra Kirk, Englewood planner, presented the proposal to the city council at the Dec. 16 public hearing. She said the request to rezone the site as a planned-unit development is necessary because the current MUB2 and MURA zoning doesn’t permit a drive-thru restaurant.
“The Englewood Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing on the proposal on Nov. 5,” she told the council. “They forwarded the request to the council without conditions.”
The proposal is to demolish the former indoor amusement facility at 3085 S. Broadway and the two houses facing South Acoma Street to create a site for construction of a 4,600-square-foot restaurant facing Broadway.
The restaurant will offer drive-thru and eat-in service. The remaining property will be a parking lot and a lane that can alow for up to 23 cars to line up to go through the drive-thru facility.
Residents raised concerns at the May neighborhood meeting and the November Planning and Zoning Commission Public Hearing about street congestion caused by the additional traffic using the restaurant. Councilmembers raised the same issue at the Dec. 16 public hearing.
In response to questions from councilmembers, Chick-fil-A representatives pointed to the traffic study conclusion that there will be about 4 percent more traffic in an already congested area. Recommendations include creating or lengthening left-turn lanes in both directions on Broadway and in both directions on Dartmouth. The conclusion is the changes would help but would not solve the traffic congestion in the area.
Another recommendation is eliminating curb parking on the east side of Acoma and possibly installing a stop sign at Acoma and Cornell.
Zell Cantrell of ZC3, project developer, presented an overview of the plan for the site. He said there will be landscaping and a 4-foot brick fence between the parking lot and Acoma. Also, there will be a 6-foot wooden fence and landscaping between the project and the adjacent parking lot to the north.
“We designed the project to keep the restaurant and ordering kiosks as far from nearby residences as possible,” he said. “In response to concerns about the original location for our trash, we moved it to a different location that is further away from the homes to the west and to the north.”
There will be a right-in, right-out access to the restaurant from Broadway and a full access from Acoma. The main drive into the area also is the realignment of the current alley, moving the exit from Dartmouth to Acoma.
Councilmembers raised concerns about separation from residents to the north and asked the north fence material be changed from wood to brick. Chick-fil-A representatives agreed to make the change to the plan.
Following the lengthy presentation about the project by the developer and discussion of the issues, the council opened the public hearing. Chris Diedrich voiced opposition to the project and was the only resident to testify.
Traditionally, the city council doesn’t vote on second and final reading of a proposal on the same night as the public hearing. However, the second reading of the proposal was on the agenda.
Council Member Joe Jefferson proposed postponing the second-reading vote until the Jan. 6 meeting. He said he wanted the additional time to talk to constituents, particularly those living in the area of the proposed project.
His motion to postpone the vote was seconded by Councilmember Linda Olson. The motion failed.
Before the second-reading vote, Jefferson said he would vote against it.
“I will vote no because I want more time to talk with constituents about the proposal and not because I don’t think the Chick-fil-A project will benefit the neighborhood and city,” he said.
The second-reading vote was 6-1. Jefferson cast the only vote against the proposal.
It will be 30 days until the new zoning ordinance is effective. Cantrell said Dec. 18 Chick-fil-A officials plan to complete purchase of the site and apply for demolition permits once the zoning change is in effect. He said the company wants to start demolition so the site can be cleared by spring 2014.