Videos: McDonald’s vs. Foxborough Sign Variance

The corpulent corporate giant asked for a variance, and met with unexpected opposition, as well as unexpected results. The formal title of the item was VAR-2010-15 McDonald’s Corp. (4601 Foxborough Avenue), on the agenda of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBOA). McDonald’s was “Requesting a Variance to the maximum square footage allowed for drive-thru signage.” Lowndes County Zoning Administrator Carmella Braswell. introduced the case, and Chair Allan Strickland mentioned pictures of other fast food restaurants with signs within ordinance limits.

A McDonald’s employee and his lawyer presented their case, in which we learned that McDonald’s wants two signs for a large total variance and that McDonald’s doesn’t want to do custom signs.

Well-known local lawyer Gary Moser stepped up to speak for over 200 residents of the Foxborough neighorhood who don’t want a McDonald’s at their entrance. He says the issues include traffic, noise, and light, and for today mostly light: Ambient light, late at night, 24×7, headlights. He walks through the county’s review criteria for variances.

Regarding county criterion C:

The application of this ULDC to this particular piece of property would create an unnecessary hardship;
Moser quotes the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (Kellog v. K, 197 F 3rd 1116 1999):
When a landowner acquires the land with knowledge of the zoning restrictions, he cannot cry “hardship.”
Among other things, he points out that the variance would be granting a special privilege as in #F), esp. given that he just named for #E a long list of other fast-food companies around town who manage just fine with standard-size signs.

Concluding, Gary Moser talks about effects on adjacent property, invoking county review criterion #K:

The extension of said nonconforming use will not further injure a permitted use on the subject property or on an adjacent property;
The Foxborough residents attest it will injure their property.

The real surprise was the next speaker. Well-known local developer Gary Moser Minchew stood up to speak, against the variance!

Minchew gave an easement across his property to First State Bank, McDonald’s insists on keeping it when they buy the property, Minchew objects to this, and to McDonald’s general attitude. Also, a previous McDonald’s got rezoned by the city with agreement to fenced with no access from Ashley Street, but that never happened. Minchew even mentions that Vince Schneider is deploying to Afghanistan and would like to come back without the neighborhood being worse.

The last speaker was a disabled Foxborough resident who wondered how he is supposed to get in and out through McDonald’s traffic.

Finally, ZBOA rendered its verdict:

Unanimous denial of the variance.

On the way out, the mighty back of McDonald’s can be seen bowing between Pete Candelario and Vince Schneider of Foxborough.

More pictures in the flickr set. Here’s a playlist for all the videos about this agenda item.


One thought on “Videos: McDonald’s vs. Foxborough Sign Variance

  1. Leigh Touchton

    Gary Minchew, who sits on the Industrial Authority, was opposed to a McDonald’s being built in the Foxborough neighborhood but voted for an INCINERATOR to be built in someone else’s neighborhood?

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