By Joe Earle
A fast-food chain’s plan to build a new drive-through restaurant on Dunwoody Club Drive has some residents feeling they must choose between cars and chicken sandwiches.
Chick-fil-A Co. wants to open a new restaurant on about a ¾- acre site at a shopping center near the intersection of Dunwoody Club Drive and Mount Vernon Highway.
The building housing the restaurant would replace a now-closed former Blockbuster retail building at the center. It would include 104 seats inside the building and offer 56 seats outside. Chick-fil-A proposes building its restaurant with two drive-through lanes. The company plans to apply soon for a variance from Dunwoody zoning laws to allow the drive-through lanes, said Marianne McCabe, a real estate manager for Chick-fil-A.
“What do we want to see in our vision of Dunwoody?” asked Joe Seconder, one of more than 40 residents who gathered at the Dunwoody Community Church Oct. 28 to view Chick-fil-A plans for the restaurant and to talk to company representatives about the plans.
Seconder said he objected to the proposed drive-through lanes. “It’s just the drive-through. It’s only the drive-through,” he said. “I love Chick-fil-A. Take out the drive-through and put in outside dining. The drive-through is a traffic generator… We’re going to have a traffic problem.”
Greg Carnkovich worried that cars using the proposed drive-through lanes might create backups that would spill onto Mount Vernon, creating traffic jams. “I think with the drive-through, it’s going to be very hard to sell this to the Dunwoody community,” he said.
Seconder also argued that allowing the drive-through lanes would mean ignoring the city of Dunwoody’s land-use plan. “Get out of the car,” he said. “Let’s get healthy.”
But other residents seemed ready to welcome Chick-fil-A to their neighborhood.
Darrell Dyas said the restaurant would create jobs to replace those that had been lost by business closings in the area and would expand the city’s tax base.
It will “put money in the bank accounts of Dunwoody to do things, pay for services,” he said. “It’s a good restaurant. It’s a good type of restaurant.”
Resident Dave Williams, who said he lives less than a mile from the proposed restaurant, also said Chick-fil-A would be an asset to the community.
“Chick-fil-A is a great community supporter,” he said. “And [the proposed] Chick-fil-A creates jobs.”
After listening to arguments from all sides during the public meeting, Katherine Spross wasn’t sure what to think. She said she lives directly across the street from the proposed chicken-sandwich restaurant. “We would share driveways,” she said. “I would really like to see something there again,” she said. “Chick-fil-A seems like a good [choice], but I’m concerned about the traffic, noise and smell. I still haven’t made up my mind.”