Santa Rosa commissioners cite drive-thru in rejecting Chick-fil-A use permit

Backers of a Chick-fil-A got grilled by a city panel over plans for a drive-thru at their proposed fast-food restaurant on Mendocino Avenue.

The Santa Rosa Planning Commission rejected a use permit for the restaurant across from Santa Rosa Junior College on a 3-3 vote. The decision can be appealed to the City Council.

All three commissioners voting against the project cited the neighborhood's distaste for a drive-thru.

"You don't need a drive-thru to be successful here," said Commissioner Vicki Duggan, noting the popularity of the nearby Panera Bread.

The College Park, Ga.-based company is proposing a 4,400-square-foot restaurant on the site of a former Burger King building that has been vacant for five years.

The plan calls for seating for 120 customers inside, 20 outside on a patio, and parking spaces for 50 cars and 20 bicycles.

A traffic consultant estimated the restaurant would generate 2,158 vehicle trips per day.

Several commissioners noted the plan would replace an eyesore with a new building that had already been redesigned to make it more pedestrian friendly.

"I think they have addressed everything that we could possibly ask them to address," said Commissioner Peter Stanley.

Stanley noted the city does not have a prohibition against drive-thrus. But the influential Santa Rosa Junior College Neighborhood Association came out strongly against that portion of the plan.

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