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McDonald's design leaves bad taste

A new McDonald's restaurant is on the drawing board for South Transit Road, and Supervisor Marc R. Smith is not lovin' it.
Smith said last week the design he has seen for the fast-food spot proposed for the southeast corner of South Transit and Hamm roads doesn't go with the historical look he wants to see for all new businesses in what he calls the Gateway Corridor.

The corridor is along South Transit Road -- Route 78 -- from the Niagara-Erie county line to the center of the City of Lockport. The Town of Lockport has been working with the city and with the Town of Pendleton on a unified approach to new development.
The new McDonald's would replace the existing burger spot, which has been on the west side of the road for more than 30 years. Spokesman Rick Rehak said it's a company-owned store but would not comment further.
Town Building Inspector Eugene Nenni said the plan calls for a 4,855-square-foot restaurant with 125 seats. There also would be a few outdoor tables.
The current McDonald's measures 4,004 square feet and has an assessed valuation of $400,000, town tax records show.
It sits on land owned by New Plan Realty, the landlord of a plaza on the west side of the road. Nenni said McDonald's sought to expand on the current site when New Plan won approval for construction of a new building on the other side of McDonald's driveway, which includes a Starbucks and other stores.
However, Nenni said, parking was an issue in the proposed McDonald's expansion. Traffic has become more cramped around McDonald's since the Starbucks went up in what used to be a wide-open parking area.
The new restaurant would require several variances, on issues ranging from green space to the distance between parking and the property lines. Also, there would have to be a traffic study of the impact on the roads, and a special-use permit is required for the drive-through window, Nenni said.
But Smith's concern is the restaurant's external architecture.
"I had expressed my concern that it doesn't really go with what we're trying to accomplish," he said. "I was concerned they brought back the same plan the Planning Board rejected last year."
The plans call for what Smith described as "more of a modern architectural design with a lot of cultured stone on the outside. I said, 'Save your money on the cultured stone. Give us some brick and some windows and some peaks, and I think it fits quite well.' "
That look is one the Planning Board has devoted much effort to forcing on Wal-Mart for its proposed new supercenter a short distance to the north at the former Lockport Mall site.
Nenni said McDonald's has bought two houses on Hamm Road and one house and a beauty salon on South Transit to make way for its new restaurant.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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