Residents Say They'll Fight New McDonald's in Fairlawn
Traffic is already a nightmare at Shiawassee and West Market, crowd says
Residents near a proposed McDonald's restaurant at the corner of Shiawassee Avenue and West Market Street left an informational meeting Tuesday night unconvinced the project is right for their neighborhood.
About 35 Fairlawn residents, most from Shiawassee and adjoining streets, listened as franchise owner John Blickle explained that the fast food restaurant would not increase traffic or crime in the area.
"We do not generate traffic," Blickle told the crowd at the Fairlawn Kiwanis Community Center. "We live off the existing (passing) traffic."
Blickle, whose company, Rubber City Arches, owns 20 area McDonald's restaurants, also said his businesses are kept neat and clean, and do not increase crime in a neighborhood.
"We do not have a reputation for attracting crime to our stores," he said.
But one resident called the intersection of Shiawassee and West Market "the worst corner in Fairlawn" and others said traffic already stacks up at the light.
"People are going to turn around and go down our street," one resident said.
That will jeopardize safety and -- most likely -- trash being thrown out windows and onto lawns, they said.
Blickle said that if the project is awarded zoning variances from the Board of Zoning Appeals and preliminary approval from the Planning Commission, he will hire a firm to conduct a traffic study in the area -- which might suggest solutions to the existing snarls.
McDonald's proposed a 4,500-square-foot restaurant in November, but the Planning Commission tabled the request after more than 50 residents protested.
A week later, Larsen Architects asked the BZA to table two variances for the project -- a 0.57-acre variance from the minimum lot size requirement of 1.5 acres and a 25-foot minimum parking set back variance to allow 6.8-foot setback from West Market and 7-foot setback from Shiawassee Avenue.
Blickle, who would be awarded the franchise if the project is approved, arranged the informational meeting Tuesday night to answer residents' questions.
But many didn't like the answers. Several said Fairlawn doesn't need a McDonald's, although Blickle, calling the market "underserved," said it's a 12-minute drive to the nearest location.
He also said 75 percent McDonald's business is drive-through, and said the Fairlawn store would not operate 24 hours. And he said that even if McDonald's doesn't go at that corner, another business eventually would.
One woman said the residents should not argue with Blickle about the plans, but should take their concerns to the Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning Commission.
"We need to be there (at those meetings) more often, and shame on us for not being," she said.
The McDonald's variances will go before the BZA March 21. If they are awarded, plans will go to the Planning Commission in April for preliminary approval.