McDonald's patrons have frequented its Monroe Turnpike restaurant and ordered sacks of burgers and fries from its drive-thru window for over a decade.
Now, the international fast food chain is planning to open a second location across town, on what is now a residential property at 579 Main St.
Some town officials believe McDonald's interest means Monroe is a desirable place to do business.
"Since McDonald's is coming in, they must think they can make their franchise work here," said James Sandor, the town's chief building official .
Sandor said the corporation has done traffic and demographic studies prior to choosing the Main Street site for its new restaurant.
"Other smaller businesses may come in without doing a study because they see McDonald's, and fill in some open commercial spaces," he said.
"I think it presents a better environment where they see an international chain come in," First Selectman Stephen Vavrek agreed. "If it's good for them, why not another retaurant or retail location?"
The 3.7-acre property at 579 Main St. is owned by Real Time Investments LLC and Ganim Ganim & Ganim PC.
The Ganims bought the parcel from Beryl Inwood Shaevitz for $208,000 in 1998 under the name Stepney LLC.
A three-bedroom colonial stands on the site. It was built in 1928, according to a field card for the address.
Real Time Investments would have to demolish the house, Sandor said, adding the permit would be subject to a town demolition delay ordinance requiring a 90-day waiting period before razing structures over 50 years old and larger than 500-square feet.
The applicant has not applied for a demolition permit yet. But the Architectural Review Board (ARB), which has advisory powers, found the plan for the 4,000-square-foot restaurant with a drive-thru "acceptable" on April 20.
P&Z hearing next
Pete Gelderman, an attorney representing the developer, spoke informally about Real Time Investment's proposal at a March 16 ARB meeting.
Board members agreed to view the 579 Main St. property and to visit McDonald's restaurants in Southbury and Trumbull with similar designs to Real Time Investment's proposed building, according to the meeting minutes.
On April 13, the ARB held a hearing on the application's architectural design.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Mark Antinozzi of Fan Hill Road strongly suggested that the design add a "pitched roof, create more of barn effect to building and a cupola to hide mechanicals," the meeting minutes said.
Lee Hossler of Stanley Road, who is chairman of the town Economic Development Commission, also wanted a pitched roof, though he wondered aloud "why we are getting another fast food establishment with so many in town already."
ARB Chairman John Rosen said the board could not discuss whether or not the town should have another fast food business, because that is outside its charge outlined in the Town Charter.
The ARB found the application "acceptable" on April 20, and now a public hearing must be scheduled before the Planning & Zoning Commission.
Real Time Investments will apply for a zone change and a special exception permit for the project.
Sandor said the developer will also need approval from the Connecticut Department of Transportation for its traffic plan.
A central hub
Aside from McDonald's wanting to invest in town, Sandor said Union Trust recently opened on Monroe Turnpike, the Kennedy Center is planning to have senior day care at 601 Main St., and work has started to build a lab at 169 Monroe Turnpike.
"We're excited," Sandor said. "We've got more commercial coming in all the time." "There's a lot of interest in the town," Vavrek said, "because it's convenient to 84, 15 and 95."
While Interstate 95 and the Merritt Parkway brings traffic down to lower Fairfield County towns like Weston and Westport, Vavrek said Route 110 brings access to the Valley, and Route 25 leads to Danbury and Bridgeport.
The first selectman said, "We really have a central hub for any business transportation-wise."