By: Catrina Leone: intern
Who doesn’t love a good fast food restaurant? A cheap place to find great tasting food. It appears that when it comes to a new McDonald’s: Ohio City residents aren’t lovin’ it.
The plan to put one of the most popular fast food chains, McDonald’s in a Ohio City neighborhood has been shot down at the city’s Planning Commission Friday. The plan will still move to a hearing before the city’s Landmarks Commission next month. If approval from the board is gained, it must ask the Board of Zoning Appeals to overturn the Planning Commission’s determination. McDonald’s can take this matter to court, if that fails.
During a three-hour hearing at City Hall, dozens of residents and fellow business owners voiced their oppositions, arguing that McDonald’s would dangerously increase traffic with its double-lane drive through. Some argue that it would also ruin the character of a neighborhood known as a bastion of the local food movement. The decision was based entirely on one key component: the sheer size and orientation of the restaurant.
The property, which is on a stretch of Lorain Road between the intersections of Fulton Avenue and West 38th Street, sits in a shopping district with restrictions designed to preserve the “pedestrian-oriented character” of the neighborhood. The front facade of the McDonald’s would measure 40 feet, but would face Fulton. The building’s longer side which is 87 feet would face Lorain.
Bruce Rinker, an attorney representing the McDonald’s Corp., argued during the hearing that the city code allows for exceptions if the space would have no impact on the nearby pedestrian-oriented retail use. A Hollywood Video store is currently on the site and is not compliant with the new pedestrian restrictions, Rinker also said. Yet and still, McDonald’s seeks to build an attractive building, with an outdoor seating area, customized bike racks and a green buffer between the property along with the residential area.
Opponents rallied against Rinker’s suggestion that the building would not affect traffic or the quality of life each pointing out on an aerial map how close they live to the site. They each also had a prediction on how disorderly the restaurant and traffic would be. City Councilman Joe Cimperman, who has led the charge against the proposal for the past year, pointed out to the commission that this new restaurant would not create new jobs. The reason for that is because it would amount to a franchise already stationed on Detroit Road in the Gordon Square neighborhood.
Ken McCoy, who runs the Detroit Road restaurant became emotional in his plea to the commission stating, “All I’m asking this community to do is allow me to run that location. Because I will treat the community with honor and respect.” In the end, City Planning Director Robert Brown recommended that the commission reject the proposal because it failed to meet the pedestrian district’s frontage requirements. Brown said, “If all it takes to trigger the exception to the rule is an argument that a proposed building needs to be bigger than the restrictions allow, the restrictions would be pointless.” The commission complied. Stay tuned to TV20, as we will be running this story throughout next week, stay tuned also for more events and stories around Cleveland!