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updated: 4/4/2012 11:16 PM

Batavia plan commission postpones vote on McDonald's design

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Batavia planners don't mind allowing a new McDonald's to be set way back from Wilson Street.

But the Plan Commission wants McDonald's LLC USA to tweak some of the building's design, better delineate pedestrian crosswalks and add more bicycle racks.

The commission voted unanimously Wednesday night, over a McDonald's representative's objection, to postpone a design-review vote until its next meeting in two weeks.

The Plan Commission, Historic Preservation Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals had a joint meeting to consider issues related to the proposed new McDonald's at 125 W. Wilson St.

McDonald's wanted three variances from the town's zoning codes. Like the proposed new Walgreens store across the street, McDonald's wants the restaurant located more than 10 feet back from the Wilson lot line. The zoning board approved the request unanimously.

The difference between the two cases may be that there is an existing McDonald's that is set 78 feet back, whereas the Walgreens proposal is for a site with an existing building that comes up nearly to the Wilson sidewalk. The Walgreens request was approved several weeks ago.

Unlike the Walgreens plan, the McDonald's would not have a parking lot in front. Instead, there would be landscaping by Wilson, driveways leading to and from the drive-through lanes and the parking lot, and a landscaped area with tables for diners.

The new building would be smaller than the existing building. If approved, it would have a double-lane drive-through. Seventy-two percent of a McDonald's business in the Chicago market comes from the drive-through, said Rich Neubauer, a rebuilding consultant for McDonald's.

The building is in the city's historic district, but is designated as "noncontributing." The Historic Preservation Commission, at a study session in February, liked the new building, saying it would improve the downtown. The current restaurant was built in 1978.

The variance hearing was easy compared to the design review.

Plan Commission Chairman Sue Peterson and resident Ralph Zimmerman both criticized the overall look of the building.

"I feel that we deserve something special for our downtown, because it is right in the center of downtown. As I look at this design -- it is a very nice design and I have nothing against it but that I have seen it (everywhere)," Peterson said.

"This is just not a real exciting McDonald's view ... I am concerned that this is so cookie-cutter," Zimmerman, of North Water Street, said. "It is the center of our town."

While agreeing to add more bike racks, Neubauer told the commission it was unlikely McDonald's corporate authorities would agree to change the design, size and location of the building's doors, or to use Batavia limestone on its sign. The building design is trademarked, he said.

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