CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – While a vote could happen next month, Charlotte City Council members shared different viewpoints of support for the proposed zoning plan for the Chick-Fil-A location on Randolph Road in the Cotswold neighborhood as its owners look to turn it into a drive-thru only location.
Chick-Fil-A representatives discussed the plan to tear down the current location and build a newer facility that would accommodate the customers’ needs today.
The current site includes a dine-in room closed to customers since COVID-19 began, two drive-thru order lanes, and a single drive-thru pick-up window.
The site has caused headaches for drivers who sit in traffic congestion that builds up along Randolph Road from people who wait to turn into the drive-thru.
There have been several instances a day where traffic is backed up toward the intersection light nearest the fast-food restaurant and serial instances of traffic being backed up in both directions as cars attempt to turn left into the restaurant, which requires crossing two lanes of traffic.
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The new spot would eliminate the dine-in area, increase the size of the kitchen, have two order and pick-up lanes, and have no dine-in seating area.
At Monday’s city council meeting, John Carmichael, an attorney for Chick-Fil-A, said, “We really feel like this will help that situation, and we feel like it’s a practical solution.”
Chick-Fil-A franchise owner Andre Harakas answered questions on Monday about how eliminating a dine-in option would help the situation as the situation already exists without dine-in.
He explained, “68 percent of our transactions were drive-thru transactions. Another 15 to 18 percent were carry-outs. Inside was only 10 percent.”
The layout is similar to what the company did at the location along Woodlawn Road, something founders have said has seen a decrease in congested traffic activity.
At Monday’s meeting, however, Attorney Carmichael stressed that there is no full-proof way to know if this will fully alleviate the problem. Some spoke in favor of the proposed plan, including Linda Humphrey, who lives near the location.
She has been skeptical of the decision and even held a community meeting last month to share those concerns with Chick-Fil-A representatives.
During that time, she explained that her worries lie with Colwick Road, which sits at the rear of the site. It is also expected to be the future site of a proposed apartment-style complex in the area.
“Now we have to think about it in terms of, what the current cars are on the street, but also, what additional cars are we going to see from those additional apartments as well,” Carmichael said.
Monday night, she announced that she changed her mind, under the condition that a traffic light would also be added to help traffic flow around Colwick Road.
She also supported a donation of $70,000 from Chick-Fil-A for further traffic studies along the road.
“It’s the right thing to do, especially with traffic safety,” she said.
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Chick-Fil-A owner, Harakas and representatives were grilled by those members more skeptical of the design and its role in the city’s push to be a more walk-friendly environment.
Mayor Pro-Tem Braxton Winston went as far as to say that he would like the council to vote against the proposed plan.
“I think this is a bad decision to make this drive-thru only. It’s an area that is densifying,” said Winston. “It’s going to intensify over time. This is the last place that I would want to put a drive-thru only.”
Other members expressed concern over the danger this would put pedestrians and cyclists who had to cross several lanes of drive-thru traffic to get to the walk-up order window.
District 6 Representative Tariq Bokhari said he favored the plans.
“More people will want to come because they are getting faster, that’s great. That’s what we need, a solution for people’s issues,” said Bokhari.
Watch the full meeting below:
The city council could vote on the plans by next month.