MOUNT PLEASANT — Despite what several people called a much better site plan, a proposed Burger King next to a salon on Washington Avenue was killed by the Mount Pleasant Plan Commission Wednesday.
After more than an hour of questions, answers and discussion, the commission shot down developer/landlord Lee Jaramillo’s attempt to bring in a Burger King to replace the closed Dickey’s Barbecue Pit at 6012 Washington Ave. Burger King would have come to the westernmost storefront of three at the retail center which includes Polished Beauty Bar in the center and Firehouse Subs in the eastern spot.
Last month the commission had tabled the matter after Polished owner-operator Erricka Stark strenuously objected to having a Burger King, with a drive-thru, next door. She feared the loss of parking because of the drive-thru, possible traffic problems on site and potential fast-food smells wafting into her salon.
So Jaramillo and his potential Burger King operator, Chicago-based Cave Enterprises, revised the site plan, moving the drive-thru from the west side to the rear of the building. They also took steps to keep restaurant smells from getting into the salon, including agreeing to install an odor-reducing system with a catalytic converter.
The village staff concluded Burger King exhaust would have minimal impact on other businesses and called the new layout the best possible one for the site, albeit still creating a tight site.
Also, at the suggestion of Commissioner John Kis, Jaramillo agreed that Stark could have three front parking spots designated only for her customers.
Parking concerns dominate
Despite the changes, parking remained a large concern for commissioners and for Stark.
“Although I think it’s a huge improvement, we are losing some parking spaces,” she said.
The site would have 47 parking spaces, which Jaramillo said meets the zoning requirements based on the building size. Combined, the three businesses would have about 26 employees working at the same time, which greatly concerned commissioners.
A Cave Enterprises representative said most Burger King customers would use the drive-thru or do carry-out, leaving only 20 to 25 percent of customers parking and eating there. But concerns remained.
Iram Cruz, owner-operator of Firehouse Subs, wholeheartedly endorsed having a Burger King to help draw people to the site. “I’m for it, absolutely,” he said.
But most commissioners remained dubious. Joe Maier offered a motion to deny the business application, saying there were “unworkable parking/drive-thru issues.” The application failed on a 4-1 vote, with only Commissioner John Hewitt voting against the motion to deny, and John Kis abstaining.
Afterward, Stark said, “I hope we can find a tenant that suits the building better, and the clients.”
A clearly unhappy Jaramillo commented, “They appealed to her desire not to have a Burger King. I think it’s sad, because she and I have been working together a long time.
“If it’s a Panera (Bread),” Jaramillo added, “it’s a shoo-in.”