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Updated: McDonald's presents redesigned architectural plan

New England earth tones, but the restaurant's name and logo will still be displayed. The P&Z approved the application 4-1

It took awhile, but the corporate wheels at the headquarters of the McDonald’s national headquarters finally turned in Monroe’s direction.

Representatives of the applicant for a new McDonald’s restaurant at 579 Main Street unveiled a new architectural plan on Thursday aimed at overcoming the aesthetic objections of members of the Monroe Planning & Zoning Commission.

The new plan features a single mansard roofline broken up by ornamental dormers, all in New England browns and grays and white trim you might find on a cottage on Cape Cod.

"I think we avoided the gasoline station-style building design for the restaurant," said Joseph Lombardi, a representative of the fast-food company.

The P&Z approved the application late that night, by a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Karen Martin cast the sole dissenting vote because she did not like the parking lot configuration.

The changes seemed to come too late for Joyce Mumm, a member of the Architectural Review Board, which fought with the applicant of record, Real Time Investments LLC, for months trying to get them to come up with a more attractive design.

"I was upset in the paper because people thought we weren’t doing our job," Mumm explained.

That drew a measured apology from the applicant’s attorney, Raymond Rizio, who said the delay wasn’t intentional. He said the developer had to get approvals from three levels on the fast food giant’s corporate structure, and it was only finalized about a week ago.

McDonald’s name and familiar "golden arches" logo will still be present on the sides of the building and on a monument sign near the street.

The developer’s engineering and landscaping experts also outlined other changes they made for the P&Z since the public hearing was recessed on Feb. 17.

They include reducing the number of parking spaces from 58 to 44, the minimum required by the zoning regulations, to allow more room for a landscaping buffer strip, and cedar fencing and landscape plantings will serve as screens for adjoining properties.

Traffic engineer Mike Galante said he conducted a new traffic count to supplement one done last May. "Traffic flow on Route 25 is not affected negatively by this development," he said.

Another key issue for the P&Z is the proposed zone change from residential RC to a DB1 business zone on a landlocked 1.16-acre parcel behind the smaller parcel along the state highway.

Real Time Investments wants to join the properties to allow sufficient land for the restaurant under the regulations. Much of the landlocked parcel is undevelopable wetlands, and the combined property would still be nonconforming for side setbacks.

But Rizio said state law gives the P&Z the power to waive the setback under these circumstances.

P&Z Chairman Richard A. Zini said he agreed that the commission does have the power to waive the requirement.

"The ability to utilize that back wetland area is extremely nil," said Town Engineer Scott Schatzlein.

Some residents spoke against the proposal, including Dr. Edward Dessau of Verna Road, which is on the other side of Route 25. He said he was concerned it might lower his property value and cause traffic congestion.

Alice Magalnick, also of Verna Road, said she moved to Monroe for the town’s traditional values, which she felt McDonald’s contradicted.

Nancy Steinborn, another Architectural Review Board member, criticized some features of the new design and the fact the proposed restaurant would be open 24 hours a day.

But it also had supporters, including the leader of the Classic Nights Car Club, Trumbull resident Seth Carley, who praised the franchise owner of Monroe’s existing McDonald’s on Route 111, Dave Hawthorne, for his civic-mindedness.

Hawthorne said McDonald’s has not made a decision who would be the franchisee for Monroe’s new restaurant if it is approved. But he said it would employ 50 people and pay taxes to the town.

Len Roberto March 18, 2011 at 11:52 AM
I attended the P&Z meeting last night. I thought Mc Donalds made a wonderfull presentation. I thought the P& Z did a wonderfull job also. I hope this application gets passed & we can bring this good business to Monroe.
Bridgeport March 18, 2011 at 12:35 PM
Odd how the Patch took two individuals and their statements about the proposed McDonald's in this article...the one being against was actually FROM Monroe, the other who was for the idea was from Trumbull... Why on earth is someone from Trumbull even allowed to have an opinion on something that does not affect him. Cleary the McDonalds is going in, I just hope the state, the town and the town residents are ready to handle the traffic that comes out of this project. Yes it may not add any more volume of cars but it will indeed have a large impact on bottlenecking in the area, an area that is already prone to major congestion problems. I've said it for years and I'll say it again, we need to do something as a town because the traffic, it's getting out of hand.
Terri Bhatt March 18, 2011 at 03:59 PM
Yuck. This is very disappointing. Since the only criteria in Monroe seems to be "as long as they're willing to pay taxes", why not see if we can also get a Hooters or a toxic waste plant? Hasn't anyone on the P&Z or the EDC traveled outside of a 40 mile radius to see what other options exist for town development? There's a big, beautiful world of better choices out there that would be more suitable for our town and that might make Monroe look like something other than a drive-through community. McDonalds does nothing for us environmentally, culturally or from a property value standpoint. I know we can do better than this.
QWERTY March 18, 2011 at 08:57 PM
Like what?!?! Another mom and pop restaurant that closes at 8 PM nightly? At least a Hooters would give this town a different option!
Donna Gail March 19, 2011 at 12:22 AM
I've heard they have great wings.
Bridgeport March 19, 2011 at 01:14 AM
We need growth beyond fast food joints and restaurants. I'm sick of the developers coming to this town thinking they can build whatever they want that does nothing for the town. This is the problem with Monroe, we let these people come in and do buinsess before and now it's grown out of control. 25 and 111 are routes of strip malls that like someone else mentioned do little for the residents of the town. Need actual business, not gas stations and subways. For 20,000 people all you need are a couple, now we have tons and it continues. These places are starting to suit the passerby's and not the residents.
sdfs March 19, 2011 at 03:21 AM
rt 25 is a nightmare. Fix it
Lee March 19, 2011 at 11:37 PM
Terri Do you think you have a choice of what and when business come in it's not what but how we deal with them
Donna Gail March 20, 2011 at 12:38 AM
True. We can't really tell a nail salon that we already have too many and they can't open shop in Monroe - wouldn't that be illegal? And sdfs what do you mean about Route 25 being a nightmare? If you mean the road itself, that's a State road.
uc14 March 20, 2011 at 01:12 AM
traffic needs to be fixed regardless of the project. are we just going to keep denying building on rt. 25 because of traffic? this building is going in the place of a former business, the addition to 'traffic' is correct as it will increase compared to the traffic volume at this current time, but traffic was there prior to mieneke burning down anyways. then you have 2 buildings right across the street that are empty... the argument against the construction of a building where a building once was is entirely flawed reasoning for arguing traffic volume increase. what you're saying is practically the same as arguing against a hypothetical re-opening of stevenson lumber or skate time because you don't want a traffic increase in an area where traffic had been going to those businesses 2 years ago. it doesn't make any sense. never mind the empty concrete lot is just an eye sore as it is.
Bridgeport March 20, 2011 at 04:55 AM
State road. but the state doesn't allow the development...
Bridgeport March 20, 2011 at 04:58 AM
From my understanding the McDonalds' is not going in the old Meinike property, its going to be next to it, that's where a residential house stands now, its not seen from the road due to trees that are currently in the way.... Maybe I'm wrong...
QWERTY March 20, 2011 at 06:14 AM
Again, like what?!?! I mean, what do you want aside from fast foods joints and restaurants? Do you believe a Costco, Wal-Mart, Target, etc., would fly in this town? The "small town" citizens would revolt. However, these are the same "small town" citizens that probably want first rate schools. Have your cake and eat it too would describe them best.
Anderson Chiropractic April 29, 2011 at 07:38 PM
Stop calling it "fast food"- fast stuff, fast calories (empty),fast ____, but not food. McDonalds has picked another great location.The architechtural design is neither harmonious or beautiful, but much better than many projects approved here in Monroe since 1988. The ONLY state capital in the US without a McDees is _________. Wonder how they've had the foresight?

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