Montgomery: MLK Burger King still planning to rebuild

Montgomery: MLK Burger King still planning to rebuild
November 09
05:00 2017

The City Council delayed rezoning items for the Burger King on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and a controversial cell phone tower during its Monday, Nov. 6, meeting.

The rezoning for the Burger King involved changing its designation from being a part of the Martin Luther King Overlay district (HB MLKO) to just a Highway Business (HB) designation to allow for the franchisee to rebuild the restaurant without the restrictions the overlay puts on new construction, such as moving it closer to the road.

Recently, that Burger King has closed and its sign has been removed. East Ward City Council Member Derwin Montgomery, who is one of the Chronicle’s owners, said that the Carrols LLC, which owns and operates the location, had already planned to temporarily shut down the location this month and begin construction, but its effort has been delayed as it’s still trying to acquire the property from Burger King.

Carrols, which purchased the Burger King locations in the local market, told Montgomery that it permanently closed down a few locations because the company was “balancing out their portfolio,” but is committed to that location and staying in the MLK corridor.

“They have committed themselves to being in the community,” said Montgomery.

The rezoning was rescheduled for the council’s Jan. 2 meeting.

Most of Monday’s meeting was taken up with zoning to place a 150 foot T-Mobile cell tower on the property of Twin City Bible Church. The “slick stick” pole would have no visible attachments. It would be located away from streets, but would be visible in the surrounding area. Michael Berkowitz, a real estate appraiser, spoke for the petitioner saying that he did not believe it would negatively impact property values in the nearby Ardmore neighborhood, which has approximately 5,000 homes.

The Ardmore Neighborhood Association disagreed. Its board voted unanimously against the tower and several Ardmore residents spoke in opposition. Ardmore Association President Daniel Castro said the tower was “inappropriate, ill-suited” for the “residential nature of our neighborhood.”

“I’ve heard more complaints from my neighbors about this project than about any other issue that’s come before us during my time as president,” he said.

Normally, when a community stands in opposition to a zoning issue, the City Council will vote it down. But by state law, cell phone towers receive quasi judicial hearings, where the council hears sworn testimony and can only base their vote on findings of fact. 

“We’re required to make a decision on the law as it stands, not as we wish it to be,” said

Southwest Ward City Council Member Dan Besse.

Besse repeatedly asked Assistant City Attorney Jerry Kontos about ways he could rule against the tower. He said he was struggling with conflicting testimony between residents who believe it would negatively impact their property value and the petitioners’ claim that it won’t.

After lengthy testimony and a rare closed-door meeting with city legal counsel in mid-meeting, the City Council delayed the vote until its Dec. 18 meeting, when they plan to question more witnesses on the tower’s impact on adjoining property.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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