Site Plan and Appearance Review Committee Rejects Latest Proposal for McDonald's

At its meeting on Thurs., October 24, SPAARC rejected the most recent plans and the proposal for a McDonald's restaurant at the NW corner of Gross Point and Old Orchard Roads.

General consensus from committee members was that McDonald's had not adequately responded to their concerns or addressed issues raised earlier on a number of fronts -  especially traffic flow and noise.  A key concern is for the proposed drive-thru that will immediately abut neighboring homes and a nursing home, and its impact on residents.

In the end, the comment that "there are drive thrus, and then there are drive thrus," summed up the collective feeling, and SPAARC voted against the latest plan.  This, however, doesn't stop the plan. The Zoning Board of Appeals is slated to consider the plans at its meeting on Nov. 13.

No plans are posted at the City website for the site as of this writing.

The plans, as revised, call for a drive running along the west side of the property behind the proposed restaurant, with an 8' high sound dampening barrier wall (as found along highways) for part of the length of the drive; solid wood fencing along other perimeter areas; noise-controlled dual ordering kiosks; room for 14 cars in queue with separate windows for paying and pickup; 21 parking stalls; no exiting permitted on Old Orchard, except for delivery trucks (gated exit, with limited deliveries in smaller trucks at scheduled times during the week, at low peak traffic hours); a 50-54 seat restaurant; energy-efficient features; an enclosed trash area; two exit and one entry lane to/from Gross Point Road; new traffic lanes on GPR to permit northbound and southbound entry to the restaurant; operating hours of 5 a.m.. to midnight, with a 1 a.m.. close on Friday and Saturday.  McDonald's expects about 60-70% of the service at the site will be from the drive-thru in the morning and lunch hours. The restaurant itself will close one hour before the drive-thru each day. McDonald's indicates that it is not a "destination restaurant" and that most business comes from traffic that already passes its properties.

Concern was raised about traffic flow and possible backups at the intersection - for cars turning into the restaurant as well as backups (due to rush hour traffic to/from the Edens, funeral processions, emergency vehicle traffic, as well as athletic event crowds); increased vehicular traffic on residential streets for cars trying to avoid the intersection at peak hours; car noise (including revving engines, horns and radios/people); "cooking odors", appearance (aesthetics) of the soundproofing wall as proposed; sound leaks through the wooden fence; the need to get better measures of sound decibels at different hours of the day and night as opposed to average levels and factoring in fans and autos, trash and truck noise; exhaust fumes and pollution; and other issues.

Two residents voiced concerns about the proximity of the facility to the homes on Princeton and the downside of the plan. Ald. Mark Tendam spoke to express his concerns on behalf of the community.

Earlier information on the site plan is in minutes of the Aug. 1 SPAARC meeting


Thank you, Deb, for taking the time to attend this meeting and for this thorough account. I am puzzled by the koan-like Committee remark about drive-thrus. Was the Committee feeling that this would be a particularly high-volume and invasive drive-thru, say compared to other McDonald's, or were they comparing to, for example, the proposed Chase Bank drive-thru?