The local McDonalds franchise would come before the board for acceptance for two variances at their July 10 meeting in Council Chambers. One of those dealt with legitimizing the existing buffer setbacks of landscaping buffering that have been out of compliance since the construction of the restaurant in 1988, prior to cityhood. The buffer at the north end of the property should have been 15 foot in depth, but in reality, it is only 8 foot in depth.
The buffer at the south end of the property should have been 10 foot in depth and is only 7 foot. Both east and west property buffers should have been 10 foot by code and are actually only 7 foot.
Board member Ed Issler would question whether the requests by staff to increase the height in buffering might cause an issue with traffic turning into and exiting the restaurant off of Neil Bahr Way, an alley which runs behind the restaurant and at the entrance at North Collier Blvd. Many of the other board members did not see a problem.
The petitioner’s representative would appear before the board and confirm the had indeed agreed to the four conditions that the city had place upon them should the board approve their request bringing them into conformance via a variance.
That request was approved by a 7-0 vote.
The second request would be for an approval of an amended Site Development Plan, which would have provided for the addition of a second parallel take-out lane on the west side of the building on the Collier Blvd side. That addition would require the removal of some of the parking on that side and realignment of some of the traffic flows within the McDonalds’ property. The owners would also have to improve some of the other exterior landscaping enhancements around the property.
Board member Issler questioned whether the need existed which would have necessitated McDonalds looking for the additional parallel drive through. “I believe you already have two ordering positions,” said Issler. Other board members corrected Issler and pointed out the request was for a parallel lane to the existing lane to ease traffic flow.
Board member Vergo would comment that he believed it would increase the efficiency of that operation, allowing for a smoother flow of traffic and a quicker exit from that property.
Mike Adams, the franchise owner, who also operates 26 other locations in Southwest Florida commented that the flow of traffic would greatly improve.
“In 1975 we opened our first drive-through on the East Trail. We did 35% of our business at the drive-through. A typical restaurant today would see 65 % go through the drive through prior to March of this year and now sees 90 % due to the Pandemic. We are seeing a shift nationwide to more drive-through every day,” said Adams.
He would go on to say he did not see a return to lower drive-through usage, as it was being fueled by a strong desire by customers. “Our business is shifting and our customers like this side-by-side approach,” said Adams. “We are slowly and cautiously reopening our dining rooms but are maintaining an approximate 80% drive-through business,” commented Adams.
I see that as an improvement, as traffic now can back up onto Collier Blvd. during the heavy demand times such as lunch as people are utilizing the drive-through,” said Rola.
The board would move on and approve both the variance request for the dual drive-through provisions.
The petitioner has also agreed to make other improvements which will bring it into conformity.
The McDonalds has recently undergone an upgrade to the interior of the facility and had reduced some of its other dine-in capacity
The board would approve drive-up configuration by a 7-0 vote.
FLAG -POLE REQUEST DENIED
The Board would also consider a request for a variance for the placement of a 30-foot-high flagpole at 1390 Jamaica Road. Current codes do not permit a pole of that height in a residential neighborhood.
Much of the conversation revolved around the flag, with not much reservation about the height of the pole. Jason Smalley, a member of staff would explain he had canvassed the Island Club, as the pole would be adjacent to property of that golf course and found no objection.
Board member Tom Swartz would comment he thought the pole would be substantial enough to withstand high winds and was not worried about its integrity.
However, it would be Paul Gougelman, the City Attorney for the Planning Board that would point out that once permitted, any flag, regardless of content could be flown from that pole and nothing could be done about it.
When questioned whether any provision could be added to the approval which would bar anything other than an American flag the board was advised no such provision would stand muster.
The board would vote to deny the variance for a 30-foot pole by a vote of 6-1 with board member Swartz opposing the motion to deny.
The Planning Board will meet once again on Friday, August 1 at 9pm in Council Chambers.