South Charlotte

Zoning change draws questions

A couple of days after Charlotte City Council approved a zoning request at Quail Corners, some residents vowed to keep a close eye on the development and take their frustration to the polls in the next election.

"We're incredibly disappointed in the city council members who allowed this to happen," said resident Maria Smithson, who lives nearby. "This is a very developer-friendly process and there's very little we can do at this point."

Charlotte City Council voted 10-2 on April 25 to allow a fast-food restaurant at the shopping center on Park Road.

Although the request failed three times before in front of the council, it passed with Mayor Anthony Foxx and Councilman Jason Burgess in opposition last Monday.

Warren Cooksey, who represents part of south Charlotte, said he saw it as an opportunity to bring revenue to the area.

He noted that there is only one drive-through fast food restaurant on southbound Park Road from downtown Charlotte to Ballantyne.

"It's a major thoroughfare carrying thousands of commuters daily," he said. "Not all of them are prepared to cook dinner after work and having another drive-through restaurant available will double their options on their way home."

But some residents worry about the other effects the fast food restaurant will have on the area, such as noise and safety.

Smithson is concerned that children playing at the athletic fields across the street will get hurt trying to cross Park Road for a meal.

She called city council's response to safety concerns - a proposed traffic signal or crosswalk - a "sloppy last minute fix."

Smithson thinks children will likely ignore the proposed signals and still be in danger crossing the street, she said.

Still, not all area residents are worried.

Resident Kristen Dodds, who lives in Park Crossing, said although some residents are concerned about how a 24-hour or late night drive-through will affect safety, the center's Harris Teeter is already 24 hours.

"Any business coming here would be good, especially since there are a lot of empty storefronts," she said.

But Mark Matthews of the Quail Hollow Homeowners Association said a drive-through will not encourage residents to stay and shop.

"It promotes 'I want to get in and get out,'" he said.

According to Monday night's decision, Crosland, the buildings' developer, must first remodel the center's buildings before adding a drive-through restaurant.

Crosland expects to finalize design and financing within six months, with construction beginning next year, said Julianne McCollum, vice president of marketing for Crosland.

But Smithson said she expects development to move quicker, given that Harris Teeter was scheduled to be renovated in February pending approval of a zoning change.