Planning & Zoning Commission members approved a McDonald's restaurant with a colonial design for 579 Main Street on March 17, but now a group of citizens is trying to repeal it. Anthony Casertano of Pastors Walk garnered signatures to a petition last week to "get rid of" the McDonald's.
When asked why he opposes McDonald's, Casertano, 15, said, "The traffic; the food's unhealthy; they snuck in a 24-hour drive-thru; the houses behind it are suing and you have kids who are going to loiter around it."
Donna MacKenzie and David and Colleen Santarsiero have filed a lawsuit claiming the public did not receive proper notice of McDonald's plans and that the commission improperly approved a drive-thru.
When Casertano spoke before the P&Z on Thursday night, Chairman Richard Zini told him Real Time Investments LLC brought the application to the town.
"The commission is not putting in a McDonald's," he said. "It decided on the application in accordance with the zoning regulations. It's a closed application. We're only allowed to take evidence through the hearing process. The only way to appeal is through the ZBA (Zoning Board of Appeals) or the court of law. The commission does not have the right to reopen a hearing."
"I thank you for your initiative though," Zini said to Casertano.
Commissioner Roger Agatston said the best time for Casertano and fellow citizens to testify against Real Time Investments' application would have been at the P&Z hearings that took place before the commission deliberated on the application.
"I was never told that," Casertano said of the hearing.
Zini said the commission is required to publish a legal notice of its hearings in the newspaper. He added the public hearings are posted in the Town Clerk's Office at Monroe Town Hall and that the town often runs notice of it on its website as an "add on."
"Under state statute, we rely on the newspaper posting," Zini said.
"What if you're not perusing the news to look it up all day?" Should there be a town letter?" asked Chris McPadden, owner of Mr. Mac's Canteen on Main Street.
"One thing he hasn't seen was where he could go, who to see," Paul Connor of Pastors Walk said of Casertano.
Zini said a validation of a petition is done at the Town Clerk's Office, which also could find how much of a statutory time limit is left to file an appeal before the ZBA. Or Casterano could appeal the decision in court.
"That's not our purview," Zini said of those options.
McPadden's main concern is the proximity of the McDonald's to Mr. Mac's Canteen.
"It's going to put out all local businesses like us," he said of the international fast food giant.