McDonald’s clears hurdle to rezone land near Celanese Road

adouglas@heraldonline.comJune 10, 2013 

— Rock Hill City Council members cast the first of two votes on Monday night to rezone land near Celanese Road to allow for a new McDonald’s restaurant.

Six members of the council unanimously approved the McDonald’s request to change a residential lot near Celanese Road to commercial property.

Councilman Jim Reno recused himself from the vote, citing a business relationship with the applicant.

A second vote on the request will be held in two weeks.

The council heard on Monday from three Rock Hill residents opposed to the rezoning, saying a fast-food restaurant would affect the quality of life in the nearby Oakwood Acres neighborhood.

Developer Bryan Tuttle said McDonald’s could go ahead with plans to build without the residential lot but having extra space would allow for a buffer for neighbors.

The company has tried to work with neighbors who are unhappy with the commercial development, he said.

Plans call for a 4,500-square-foot restaurant on 3.3 acres with about 85 seats inside and 60 on-site parking spaces.

McDonald’s plans to use a “pork chop” traffic deferral device at its Monterey Drive entry and exit driveway.

Councilman Kevin Sutton questioned the effectiveness of a “pork chop,” saying a similar device was installed on Charlotte Avenue to keep customers from making a left-hand turn when leaving the CVS store on Cherry Road.

The “pork chop” at McDonald’s would be more “meaningful,” Tuttle said.

“If you try to cheat on it ... it will raise you up off the ground.”

Tuttle and McDonald’s have been working on plans for the new restaurant for more than a year.

The Rock Hill Planning Commission initially approved the company’s rezoning request last year.

The company withdrew its request for rezoning before the council voted earlier this year because too few neighbors had signed to lift a deed restriction on the residential lot.

Last week, the Planning Commission took up the request again after McDonald’s acquired the 25 signatures needed to lift a commercial development ban on the lot.

In a 3-2 vote, commissioners rejected the McDonald’s request, sending a recommendation to the City Council that Rock Hill not rezone the land.

Monday night’s council vote to approve the rezoning request overrides the Planning Commission recommendation.

A restaurant is better than other commercial development that could come in the future on the corner property, said Councilwoman Kathy Pender, who represents the Oakwood Acres area.

“By right” commercial development can move onto about two-thirds of the property in the rezoning request, she said, and growth is guaranteed to continue.

The Monterey Drive neighborhood has had problems in the past with a previous owner who ran a bar across the street from the proposed McDonald’s site, she said.

New owners of the Rock City Tavern on Celanese Road are good neighbors and she wants to make sure the commercial property next to a neighborhood remains peaceful, Pender said.

“Something’s going to go there,” she said, “and I think it could be a lot worse (than McDonald’s).”

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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