The Batavia McDonald's plan on Wednesday did not get all the glowing recommendations officials had hoped for.
Although variances and a conditional use permit were recommended for approval at a public meeting, some Plan Commission members took issue with the design review approval for a modern Mickey D’s.
“We’re all very excited about it," said Sue Peterson, plan commission chair and zoning board of appeals member. "We’ve been waiting for a very long time for McDonald’s to do something with their structure. But we feel that we deserve something special for our McDonald’s since it’s the center of our downtown.”
The has been up since 1978. The site would be razed and a new building with a double drive-through would be built in its place. McDonald’s calls for the building to be slightly smaller than the last.
“Aesthetically, (the future design) is lacking,” resident Rex Zimmerman said. “This is so cookie cutter. … This is not a retro McDonald’s. This is not an attractive McDonald’s. This is a drive thru. I don’t need a drive thru in the center of my downtown.”
The Plan Commission voted to continue the discussion of the design review at the April 18 meeting. They requested that McDonald’s consultants and engineers consider five recommendations before the next meeting:
- Switching the current stone to Batavia limestone
- Reposition current and adding more bike racks
- Creating a more pedestrian friendly entryway in the front of the building
- Paving parking lot crosswalks with clay pavers
- Making the front doorway more appealing
“It’s a very nice design, and I don’t have anything against it, but I’ve seen it,” Peterson said, also referring to the building’s design as “too cookie-cutter.”
But Rich Neubauer, consultant for McDonald’s and immediate former rebuild manager for the Batavia McDonald’s, said time is running out. His comments were echoed by McDonald's Attorney Hank Stillwell, also present at the meeting.
“McDonald’s has worked extensively with the city staff,” Stillwell said, adding that the company has been working on this project for five years. “We’ve gone as far as we can go. At this point, we need to move forward or look at other options for the site.”
Before construction can begin, the design review needs to be approved by the Plan Commission. The Community Development Committee also needs to make recommendations on the variances and conditional use for the double drive-thru. Once the Committee makes its recommendations, the plan will then head to the Batavia City Council in another meeting for a final vote.
The plan is a long time coming for the city and the restaurant. Officials said the Batavia location was in need of relief from traffic build-ups in the drive through. And according to Neubauer, 72 percent of modern fast-food business is in the drive through.
“That’s why the double drive-thru system is important to us,” he said. “This is a huge improvement over what is there today. … (The new) drive through is extremely efficient, compared to what it was before.”
The Community Development Committee might begin to deliberate over the variances and conditional use permit for the double drive-thru at their April 10 meeting next week.