At least 575 neighbors want Panera on Garland Road, complete with a drive-thru. That’s the number of people who have so far signed a change.org petition asking City Councilman Mark Clayton to reconsider his opposition to the project.
Zoning consultant Rob Reeves, who was working with the property owner to bring in Panera, says the deal is contingent on the fast-casual eatery building a drive-thru. Clayton has said his opposition stems from the Garland Road Vision, a document produced by neighbors in 2010 to help guide the flow of development, which suggests limiting drive-thrus in an effort to keep track moving. But even those behind the Vision seem to be in full support of Panera with a drive-thru where a medical offices currently stands (the owner also owns to parking lot across Beachview, which he plans to develop separately).
“As you know the existing has been vacant for quite some time and is an eyesore to the community. The applicant would like to use both sites for restaurant uses and [we] understand the applicant’s desire to have the flexibility to have drive-thru windows,” Brad Grist and John Olson, co-chairs of the Garland Road Vision committee, wrote in a July 2016 letter to Michael Jung, Clayton’s appointee on the city Plan Commission. “We respectfully request that you approve the applicant’s request.”
Other neighbors are less enthused with the idea of a Panera, pointing out that Jimmy John’s and Chick-fil-A are also opening on Garland this summer, leading to what some see as a proliferation of chains.
The petition seeks to gain 1,000 signatures, just a small fraction of the number of neighbors who live in the general vicinity (nearby Little Forest Hills, for example, has a population of 4,200). It’s unclear whether it’ll be enough to make Clayton reconsider his stance on the development.
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