The Royal Palm Beach Village Council approved variance requests earlier this month from McDonald’s to expand its restaurant on Royal Palm Beach Blvd.
The Oct. 15 decision included a reduction in the number of parking spaces and the addition of a second drive-through lane and a second cashier’s station.
Planning & Zoning Director Bradford O’Brien explained that McDonald’s proposes to remodel and expand its existing restaurant at 1400 Royal Palm Beach Blvd. in the Lakeview Center plaza.
“As a result of the remodeling, the applicant is required to apply for variances to the number of required parking spaces and to allow for a limited bypass lane,” O’Brien said.
The McDonald’s restaurant at that location was originally approved in 1998. The changes include a 346-square-foot addition to accommodate the new cashier window and conversion of the existing drive-through to a dual drive-through, along with modifications to site circulation, the addition of a second pickup window on the north side of the building, the addition of a loading zone where one does not currently exist, and remodeling the current façade and signage.
As a result of the changes, the applicant requested a reduction of the required parking spaces by nine. The village requires that restaurants that are not part of the main shopping center have a minimum of one parking space for every 75 square feet of floor area, plus one parking space for every employee on the largest shift, which would require 47 parking spaces for the restaurant, plus 10 parking spaces for employees.
“The applicant contends that the existing approved site plan is currently nonconforming, and the proposed site plan changes will improve circulation, functionality and efficiency of this site,” O’Brien said. “The applicant further asserts that the parking for the overall Lakeview Center offices and the onsite parking for McDonald’s will be sufficient to meet the actual parking demand for the combined uses. The applicant further contends that although those site plan modifications cause the need for variances, the proposed improvements will alleviate some of the existing nonconformities that currently exist on the site.”
McDonald’s also requested a variance to allow a dual drive-through and a continuous 10-foot bypass lane as required by village code.
“The applicant asserts that the existing drive-through lane does not provide a continuous 10-foot bypass lane as required by village code and that the proposed drive-through configuration will be an improvement to the existing site circulation,” O’Brien said. “In addition, the applicant noted that a literal interpretation of the code would prevent any improvements to the site.”
O’Brien said that village staff generally agrees with the applicant that the proposed modifications represent an improvement to the existing non-conforming conditions and traffic issues, and that the proposed bypass lane would improve circulation.
The requests were approved 5-0 by the Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission on Sept. 24, and staff recommended approval.
Agent Brian Terry of the Wantman Group, representing the applicant, added that the improvements are similar to more recently constructed McDonald’s restaurants.
“Overall, it should be an improved traffic circulation around McDonald’s and improve the stacking, which is the congestion point today,” Terry said. “As well as, obviously, bring this McDonald’s in line with what you’re seeing throughout the county for a remodeling and refurbishment of the façade.”
Councilman David Swift said he supported the variances but asked whether traffic will stack outside the premises during heavy business periods and potentially block lanes or parking spaces, and O’Brien said that the previous parking spaces will now be a loading zone.
Councilman Jeff Hmara asked if there is stacking that interferes with other lanes or parking spaces, and whether McDonald’s had a plan to alleviate it, and O’Brien said that conditions would be a part of the site plan itself, which was not under consideration that evening.
Swift made a motion to approve the variances, which carried 5-0. The council also approved a resolution to allow an additional menu pricing sign at the restaurant, which carried 5-0.