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Board tables fast-food chain upgrade decision

McDonalds plans to construct a contemporary, café-style building and a new parking lot. Photo by Rich Bockmann
TimesLedger Newspapers

Community Board 12 voted last week to table the decision to renew a variance for a revamped McDonald’s in South Jamaica.

John Marmora, the attorney representing the fast-foot chain, said McDonald’s typically upgrades its restaurants every 10 years, meaning the 1960s-era building at the corner of Sutphin and Linden boulevards was overdue for an overhaul.

“There comes a point in time when you pump enough Botox into a store that you really have to scrape it and start all over again and that’s really where we are right now. We want to scrape the place and start all over again,” he said. “Once you do that, however, as a matter of law, you lose all your existing permits and approvals.”

The plans call for demolishing the existing building and replacing it with a contemporary, café-style building and constructing a new parking lot on the site of an adjacent, vacant Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.

The McDonald’s sits in a commercial overlay district in a residential zone, requiring the company to apply for a special-use permit with the city Board of Standards and Appeals allowing an eating and drinking establishment with an accessory drive-through, Marmora said.

McDonald’s, however, wants to change the orientation of the restaurant so drive-through customers would enter from Sutphin and circile around the building by Augusta Court, instead of entering from Linden. This requires extending the commercial zone 25 feet into the residential zone, 2 inches from the court.

“The 2 inches is actually significant because if it were 25 feet it’s automatic, but its 25 feet, 2 inches, so we need a special permit,” Marmora said.

Construction would take somewhere between 90 and 120 days, during which time McDonald’s would make an effort to relocate the restaurant’s employees, Marmora said.

Marmora said he had met with the board’s Land Use Committee and its members were satisfied with the application, but when it came to giving his report, Committee Chairman Cardinal Sandiford said there was a “technical issue” with the application that arose at the last minute and he refused to comment further.

The board voted unanimously to postpone voting on the application until the issue was cleared up.

The board also voted to approve a 10-year variance to allow the Montefiore Cemetery in Cambria Heights to operate a “little garage area” in a residential zone across from Springfield Boulevard.

“Basically what it houses is the maintenance vehicles for the cemetery and all the equipment that is used to maintain the cemetery grounds,” consultant John Ronan explained.

The cemetery received a 15-year variance in 1997.

“We’ve gone 15 years without a problem here,” Ronan said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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