Planning board takes no action on Chick-fil-A

by Rebecca Bennett

According to Hyattsville city councilman Patrick Paschall, the proposed Chick-fil-A drive-thru is expected to process 14,000 cars each month.

Reaffirms approval of Chick-fil-A without drive-through

Updated on July 18, 2014 at 11:07am

The lack of action by the Prince George’s County Planning Board 51 minutes into a July 17  hearing affirms their decision that the proposed Chick-fil-A in the parking lot of the Mall at Prince George’s is approved without a drive-through.

The Prince George’s County Council, sitting as the District Council, sent a petition by Chick-fil-A back to the planning board at an April 14 hearing.  District 2 county councilman Will Campos entered specific instructions for the planning board to give the matter of the drive-through given more consideration.

Hyattsville city councilman Patrick Paschall attended the July 17 planning board meeting to speak on record.  The councilman says that he had 330 signatures in hand from his petition against the drive-through.

But, the planning board did not hear additional public comment.  Paschall says it was an administrative item on the July 17 agenda, because they had reviewed the remand order with their attorney.

Debra Borden, the associate general counsel for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, stated that because of a recent case taken to appeals court by a development company, it was determined that the District Council does not have original jurisdiction in zoning matters.

“The District Council cannot add to the record, cannot make factual findings, they cannot make determinations outside of the record,” Borden said.

She went on to say the District Council can’t ask for a remand unless the planning board’s decision was found to be “arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory, or illegal.”

“This is good…it’s making sure we don’t change the rules for big corporations,”  Paschall said, albeit disappointed he did not get to submit the signatures he collected into the official record on the matter.

However, the Hyattsville councilman did give them to the members of the planning board and plans to submit them electronically to the members of the county council.

He went on to say, “The District Council will have a difficult time overturning the planning board’s decision.”

Why no drive-throughs?

The petition submitted by Chick-fil-A would change the zoning around the Prince George’s Plaza Metro to allow for drive-throughs.

The Washington Informer spoke with community members who support the drive-through:

“We don’t see a drive-thru being a big problem. If they can put drive-thrus in places like a liquor store, then this shouldn’t be a deterrent,” said LaVerne Williams, 88, president of the Lewisdale Civic Association in Hyattsville and a Chick-fil-A supporter. “There are very few American [restaurants] in the area now. [Chick-fil-A’s] all-American.”

Paschall says that zoning restrictions that prohibit drive-throughs are there for a specific reasons.  He says they promote walkability, sustainability and pedestrian safety.

Edouard Haba, also a member of the Hyattsville City Council, told the Washington Informer:

“We want to keep the area as a family-friendly district. We are trying to make the area pedestrian friendly,” said Haba, 32, who has lived in the city for five years. “Adding a drive-thru to it would not help and it is not allowed.”

Paschall wants residents to be aware that proposed the McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A drive-throughs, as well as the impending update to the transit overlay zone in that area are all interconnected.

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