WANA
Woodlawn Area Neighborhood Association
 
Below are the minutes from the Chick-fil-A meeting held at Ensworth on Wenesday February 16th.    The drawings and maps used during the presentation can be
downloaded here.  Note the download is a 12mb zip file containing PDF files.

Chick-Fil-A Development Proposal

February 16, 2011

Minutes

 

 

1.     Welcome and Introductions - James Bristol, President

·      James introduced himself along with WANA Board.

·      He thanked everyone for coming and for the informative and respectful dialogue thus far (mainly via the listserv).

·      He explained the reason for calling this special WANA meeting => that Chick-Fil-A is interested in building a restaurant on the corner of Woodlawn Drive and Harding Road where the empty Regions bank building currently stand. They have come tonight to present their information for us to review and form our individual opinions.

Note: The current proposal from Chick-fil-A includes 2 drive-thru lanes and limited outdoor, covered seating (no indoor dining).

·      He outlined the agenda of the meeting and the structure for the meeting including 2-4 minutes for attendants to express their opinion and/or ask questions following the Chick-fil-A presentation.

·      James explained that the ballots handed out in the beginning of the meeting would be used to gauge WANA’s opinion of this development. The Board will collect the information from the ballots and forward on to Jason Holleman, our Councilman, who would then use the information to inform metro about our opinion. The ballots include “address” to help Jason understand the opinions of those WANA neighbors who would be most directly impacted by any additional traffic, litter, etc. that may result from this development. The ballots also allow for comments for neighbors to give further comments and/or suggestions regarding all aspects of the development, sidewalk promises, indoor seating option, etc.

·      He stated this is the initial step in the whole process. Nothing is before metro yet from Chick-fil-A, who realized that they could not get a variance without the support of the local Councilman. So, they contacted Jason Holleman, who in turn contacted James Bristol (WANA). 

Note: Under the current UDO, a new drive-thru restaurant is not allowed on a corner lot. Chick-fil-A would need a variance from metro to build a new building on that property. They would tear down the empty bank building and replace with a new building and drive-thru. However, a drive thru could exist there if any prospective tenant wanted to repurpose the existing building and drive thru

 

 

2. Jason Holleman

   Introduced himself as our  District 24 Councilman

·      Explained that this is the very first step in this potential process

·      He stated that he was recently approached by Littlejohn (local developer) and Chick-fil-A about this development proposal 3-4 weeks ago. Jason told them that the place to start would be to meet with James Bristol (President of WANA and immediately adjacent to this proposed development). And then from there Jason thought a community meeting should take place (i.e. this meeting).

·      In Jason’s first meeting with Chick-fil-A they made a proposal and Jason offered some suggestions. Now they are here to present their proposal to you and get feedback, elicit and tabulate opinions.

·      Jason explained what WANA first needs to understand “what is Chick-fil-A exactly requesting and what is the process”?:

o   This is a very complicated piece of property; it has an underlying zoning, it has a PUD (plan unit development); it also falls under the Harding UDO - last parcel of property to the east covered under the UDO

o   Biggest obstacle to Chick-fil-A for their business model is that the UDO expressly prohibits a drive-thru on a corner lot; there is some allowance for drive-thrus (but when a drive-thru is presented to a public right-of-way…that is not allowed under the UDO; they need some relief from that specific provision in order to move forward (if they construct a new building)….UDO does not come into effect if they use the existing building (grandfathered in because a drive thru does exist on the current, empty bank building). This is an important piece to understand because any other business (or fast-food restaurant) could come in and use that existing building and drive-thru without a variance or support from neighborhood. This is not necessarily a choice between a business with a drive-thru or without a drive.

o   In conjunction with their business development and to counter traffic concerns, Chick-fil-A has offered to build a sidewalk off-site and in the public right of way from Harding Road to the 3-way stop sign at Woodlawn Drive (stopping across the street from the Ensworth School). Chick-fil-A is aware that this is a neighborhood that has desired sidewalks (better pedestrian access and traffic calming) for a long time. Jason said he understands there some neighbors have a desire for more sidewalks; some may think this offer to mitigate increased traffic from Chick-fil-A is not enough.

o   This is where we are in the process. He is a little tentative about ballots but encouraged by the fact that they are not simply “yes or no”; that they include a comment section (for neighbors to suggest things to be added or removed from proposal that would make the Chick-fil-A proposal more attractive to the neighborhood); and that addresses are recorded to allow neighbors who would be more directly impacted by development to carry a heavier weight.

·      Introduced Getra Thomason and Marianne McCabe from Chick-fil-A

·      Acknowledged Hilary Kahnle and Kathryn  Withers from Metro Planning in attendance (they can answer UDO questions and specific about UDO requirements)

·      Question: about exact sidewalk location (to Ensworth Ave or Ensworth School)?

Answer: to Ensworth School….Jason commented that the thinking is that maybe one day Ensworth School would continue the sidewalk along Woodlawn Drive to MBA Avenue and then maybe MBA would continue the sidewalk down MBA Avenue to Woodlawn ? to make a complete loop.

·      Question: Is that stretch on Woodlawn where Chick-fil-A has offered to build a sidewalk already included in the Metro Sidewalk plan? In other words, does WANA have to rely on Chick-fil-A to get a sidewalk there?

·      Answer: Yes it is included in the metro sidewalk plan. It’s just a matter of funding. Funding time frame: if we continue building sidewalks at the current funding rate, it will be 200 years before we build out the sidewalk plan.

 

2. Getra Thomason and Marianne McCabe – Chick-fil-A (SE Regional Corporate Team plus Real Estate)

·      Background of company (1940’s diner in Georgia), private company, 1500 stores in U.S.

·      Truett Cathey) – 90 year old owner

·      Have wanted to be in Nashville for a long time

·      Company works under organization plan of 1 franchisee with 1 owner/operator from the community (small business endeavor committed to local community) who is at the restaurant most days and invested in making sure the restaurant fits with the community

·      Do not have an absentee franchisee located in a different state

·      Breakfast and lunch business busiest time of day for them

 

 

3. Jeff Heinze (from Littlejohn, a local engineering/landscaping firm hired by Chick-fil-A )

     Interaction between land owner and developer – agrees with this back and forth dialogue

     Presented several maps and pictures of proposed building and showed exact location of building (southeast corner of Harding Road and Woodlawn Drive)

     Harding UDO sets design standards for new buildings and controls many aspects of how buildings are designed, as seen at the Hill Center (shops and sidewalks with parking in rear; walkable environment). This proposal is in keeping with the UDO.

     Details of site plan (also see pictures on website):

o  Remove existing bank building

o  New building would sit close to Harding – “front out building” as the shops in the Hill Center are designed (pull up to Harding Road)

o  Drive-thrus and outdoor dining with tables and umbrellas

o  Keep 2 current curb cuts (one on Harding and one on Woodlawn; close a curb cut on Woodlawn close to the traffic signal) = keeping 2 of the existing entry/exit points and closing one existing entry/exit that the bank building has today

     Circulation of the building/how it works to serve customers:

o  No indoor dining (outdoor only with fans?)

o  Based on 2 parameters of business: walk-up/vendors with covered outdoor dining (activates street scape) and 2 drive-thru windows for cars

o  Walkable nature - using a ½- ¼ mile radius for walkers to determine which residents and workers fall within this location and may walk to restaurant

o  2 drive-thrus (functions/driving/service are hidden along back per Harding UDO); cars would enter from Harding Road to form 2 lines for the double drive-thru windows (one being through a tunnel with an extended rooftop); one edge along Woodlawn Drive has landscaping and metal bar fencing to make an attractive walking environment; dumpsters located in back facing condominiums where the bank dumpster is located currently

     Building is architecturally framed to the intersection as per UDO

     Showed elevations from Harding and Woodlawn (see pictures); 4-sides of building , with accent panels and decorative roofing

     Showed pathway of drive-thrus (enter/exit Harding; can exit onto Woodlawn as well)

     Concerns from WANA about traffic (If you do this development, how does it affect traffic?):

o  Jeff looked at traffic plan (which was done with UDO) and pulled traffic counts that TDOT has on Harding Road

o  Presented traffic chart, see map: (using standardized national fast food and traffic data); current bank building is 2800 square feet, Chick-fil-A would be 2600 square feet (300 is the free standing drive thru kiosk via translogic conveyer system)

o  Total amount of daily trips:

a. How many cars come to this facility over 24 hours = 815-1060 cars/day, morning peak (7am-9am = 205 cars), lunch (220 cars), evening peak (4pm-6pm = 180 cars)

b. How many of those cars are new trips or part of Harding Road traffic?

  89% of traffic trips for a fast-food facility are pass-by traffic (not destination traffic)

 

Compared to:

bank 698

sit down restaurant = 842

pharmacy = 250

 

·      Peak time of day for fast-food is lunchtime, 2nd highest is breakfast, 3rd highest is dinner

·      Total traffic is highest with Chick-fil-A compared to other types of new businesses, but at the lowest traffic times in the city

 

 

 

Q: Can you tell us which businesses have the highest number of cars (destination traffic) during the AM and PM peaks?

A: Chick-fil-A (20 new cars in AM, 25 new cars at lunch, 20 new cars in PM), bank (57 new cars in AM, 96 new cars at lunch, 136 new cars in PM), pharmacy (8 new cars in AM, 29 new cars at lunch, 29 new cars in PM), sit down restaurant (27 new cars in AM, 83 new cars at lunch, 83 new cars in PM )

 

Q: Explain source of the traffic data

A: From ITE? (Institute of Transportation Engineers) – Bible of all the land uses (surveys those uses) across the U.S. and then look at regional applications (comparative uses).

 

Q: Have you spoken with Suntrust and Walgreen’s [which are both located next to this location in question] to see if they are getting close to the numbers you are stating for a branch bank and a pharmacy?

A: No.

 

 

·      Next step is a privately studied traffic study

 

Attendee comment: The number of cars is an issue but the slow moving number (on White Bridge Road) is a big issue that needs to be addressed [because it will feed onto Harding Road into the direction of Chick-fil-A]. It is a real bottleneck.

 

Q: How much parking is there on the location for employees and customers?

A: Jeff started with an explanation of car flow and direction on the location, point of entry on Harding Road and exit on both Woodlawn and Harding Road.

     9 parking spots for guest and employee (5-6) cars.  Chick Fil A may investigate off-site parking for employees.

 

Attendee comment: Difficult to turn left onto Woodlawn Drive from that lot.

 

Chick-fil-A comment: The double stacking for the drive-thru has stacking for 25 cars;

business projection is 50 cars/hour (3 minute wait)

 

Attendee comment: One hour observation of the Chick-fil-A in Cool Springs today (February 16th) – there were 33 cars in line upon arrival; there were no less than 45 cars

 

Q: How does Chick-fil-A plan to handle the drive-by (existing) “back-up” traffic that will develop?

A: not answered

 

Attendee comment: Ambitious plan with pretty landscape and architecture. Why on Earth are you picking on this beautiful piece of property and magnolia tree? Loud applause from audience. Please put this further away in a spot that can take this much traffic? The existing building is pretty, made out of real bricks, well integrated on the property. Your design is hiding the fact that this is a chicken box. Please take this to White Bridge Road or elsewhere that has plenty of blacktop and parking.

 

 

Attendee comment: You need to add another line to your traffic study that includes how long people will have to wait to turn into the stores further east on Harding due to the back-up traffic on Harding Road. People need to be able to come and go as they please.

 

 

Attendee comment: Noon is the new rush hour in time - look at the Wendy’s on Natchez Trace. I live directly behind this location - there will be a lot of noise from this development (order box: “can I take your order? Do you want fries with that?”); I can smell the dumpsters in the summer (yes there are dumpsters there already, but they are not holding food); you’ve done a lovely job [to Chick-fil-A], but if you want to put in a Chick-fil-A, put it in areas that can handle it (like 8th Avenue).

You keep talking about traffic, but in the beginning you were talking about all the people who would walk down this new sidewalk to get to your restaurant. I’m a walker, but there are not many who will really walk to this. I do not eat fast food but I’m sure Chick-fil-A is great – just take it to 8th Aveunue.

 

 

Attendee comment: Deaf-blind resident next door expressed concern about his crosswalk signal to cross Harding Road (nothing better happen to it); the new sidewalk needs a curb and a grass area to include the utility pole; concern about how to exit the property on Harding Road and turn west (will not be possible) and hard to exit onto Woodlawn Drive too.

 

Attendee comment: Will be very dangerous for pedestrians walking down the sidewalks on both sides of this new development.

 

Q: You are from a very professional firm and I admire your work…You are part of the UDO, which was passed several years ago with a traffic plan (that included the widening of Harding Road by several lanes. But the placement of your building would prevent this widening. So why are you allowed to selectively disregard the most important feature of the UDO traffic plan [the widening of Harding Road]?

A: We are not. The front retail area in the Hill Center is set back enough to accommodate for the widening of Harding Road. We will accommodate any reserve for right-of-way.

 

Q: Well then why aren’t you showing the additional lanes to be added on Harding Road (and what really the street scapes would look like and if the outdoor dining would disappear) on your map? Show it if this is really based on the widening of Harding Road.

A. The right-of-way changes at that location of this proposed development. If things change in the future, we’ll come back and show you the new changes, but this is the first conversation.

 

Q: The UDO traffic plan states that 85% of improvement on an F rated street is based on the widening of Harding Road (15% improvement from the Connector). With an F rated street in front of this location, the impact of fast food is to take what is pass through traffic (an advantage of fast food) and route it on site and then put back onto an F rated street. The reality is that cars would turn left Woodlawn Drive and then rattle on down for several miles. The number of cars turning left is probably a knowable figure from traffic modeling. So should you decide to go any further, that would be a number that WANA has every right to know because why would you get back on an F rated street?   

Your site plan is based right now on the major improvement or amelioration of traffic on Harding Road not taking place.

Loud applause from audience.

A: We will accommodate any future reserve for setbacks and widening of Harding Road. (right-of-way to the north is wider at St. Thomas)

Brief discussion about how many feet involved in the widening of Harding.

We have every right to see the plans of widening Harding since it is included in the Harding UDO traffic plan.

 

 

Attendee comment: Very upset and concerned about a fast food restaurant next door (lives at Stanford Place) – property value, quality of life, how we will get in and out of our own driveway.

Questioned Jason about his not communicating to Stanford Place and Wellington Arms. Jason reiterated that this is just the beginning of discussions and thought they were included in the WANA listserv. He is happy to meet with them independently if wanted, and requested their HOA contact information for future uses.

 

 

Q: For James and the Board, how can you ask us to vote on something when this is so up in the air? Have you evaluated if sidewalks can really be built on Woodlawn?

A: Nothing would happen unless variance from metro; Jason gave us a first shot at discussion – so this meeting was planned to see what needs to be addressed before going anywhere. Get people on board before you file a bill. This is just the beginning. Started with WANA because of previous traffic discussions. More community meetings can be held.

This is not a vote “yes” or “no” to be built – just a gauge of what you think about this.

 

Q: Confused about this discussion even taking place because it goes against the UDO, which exists to protect the integrity of our neighborhood. What is the benefit of walking to your restaurant with no indoor seating? In line with the UDO, I defer to what you did in Birmingham - why not see the same proposal here (indoor seating only, cut out the drive-thru)? Because it does not make as much money. We might have been a little more receptive if you included indoor seating, playground, sidewalks

Comes down to 2 main points: the impact of traffic and our property values

 

 

 

 

 

 



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