by Max Brantley
... and zoning issues.
On the jump, a WLR neighborhood association leader is unhappy about a zoning variance sought for a drive-through McDonald's on Highway 10. It would be another affront to the Highway 10 design overlay district. (Yes. Really. That hellish corridor actually is the product of a design overlay. Let that be a reminder of why Library Director Bobby Roberts' insistence on slavish devotion to the tiniest, and already oft-ignored River Market Design Overlay District rules rings a touch hollow in this city.)
Having ultimately lost a battle over a litter-strewn drive-through Sonic in my backyard (plus an automatic car wash that immediately began pre-dawn operations despite representations to the contrary) I feel the pain of the complainant and the feeling of futility that arises from facing commercial interests before the City Board.
Michel Leidermann who lives in Chevaux Court, as I do, suggested I get in touch with you regarding the fact that McDonald's is asking for a variance in order to be allowed to build a drive-thru restaurant on the southeast corner of the Chenonceau/Cantrell intersection. The Design Overlay or the Hwy. 10 Scenic Overlay, states that there should be one building per 2 acres. The lot they are attempting to build on is only 1.2 acres. Time and time again the Planning Commission has approved variances allowing construction on less than 2 acres. The CLR Board of Directors follows suit.
I serve Chevaux Court as the President of its POA. In working in conjunction with Bayonne, Aberdeen, The Ranch, Johnson Ranch Road POAs, we are trying to keep this high traffic volume, drive-thru restaurant from locating on this corner. The property is owned by Karen Flake. Both John and Karen Flake attended our Town Hall Meeting on November 6 as did Tom Maraist from McDonald's.
Mary Dornhoffer, President of the Coalition of West Little Rock Neighborhoods Association, has contact with approx. 1,000 homes in our area and is working with all of us.
We all agree that we are sick and tired of the constant granting of variances by the Planning Commission and the Directors which allows just this type of anomaly to take place, ignoring the human element in the nearby subdivisions. We are not opposed to the commercial development of the area. It is primarily zoned C-3. We want the powers-that-be to respect the effort that went into the Scenic Overlay and adhere to its objective "to protect and enhance the scenic quality of the Highway 10 Corridor by providing for SENSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS which will maximize the natural foliage and terrain
while also providing planted buffer and landscaped areas to protect and enhance the aesthetic and visual character of the lands surrounding Highway 10." We say that a fast-food, drive-thru restaurant is totally insensitive to the homes that would surround it. Even the Chairman of the Planning Commission agreed that this is the wrong location for this restaurant. It it not McDonald's per se that we object to...it's the drive-thru and the fact that they want to remain open from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. (which I figure they will apply later for 24 hour service).
We have asked Donna James, on staff at the Planning Commission to provide us with the details of how many and what type of variances have been granted that are in direct conflict with the Scenic Overlay. We are still waiting to hear from her.
We want the Planning Commission and the Directors to "man up" - draw a line in the sand - and end this granting of variances for building on less than 2 acres, enforce placing berms, dense plantings, etc. In other words, listen to what the people wo live in the area want. We want to know why the developers and contractors have their applications for variances granted and "we the people" are not heard.
-- Sandra Palmer