A controversial proposal to build a drive-through that ran past residents’ yards has been withdrawn, city officials said.
Developer David Fusco will instead talk with neighbors about projects for the site, at 1419 Erie Blvd., Zoning Officer Steven Strichman said.
Fusco may submit a new proposal for the lot, Strichman said.
Residents were thrilled by the decision, and the man who organized the opposition to the project said he’s eager to talk about new ideas for the lot.
“I’d like to work with him on something substantial,” said resident John Rotundo. “We’ve got to get creative.”
City officials had privately said that Fusco’s original plan was unlikely to get approved. He wanted to build a gas station with a Dunkin’ Donuts, which usually has a drive-through.
But to make the drive-through fit on the small commercial lot, it had to be placed 3 feet from nearby residential yards.
That’s unacceptably close, according to the city zoning ordinances.
Not only is the lot small, but there’s no room to expand. The adjacent lot, which is also vacant, was once home to a dry cleaner. City officials suspect the land is contaminated and said Fusco is unlikely to want to buy it until the land is officially declared clean by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Rotundo said Fusco clearly needs to be able to buy the adjacent lot so that he has room for a larger project.
“This is where we get Metroplex involved,” he said. “Let’s get the money to clean up that [lot]. We could attract something fantastic. Something great could happen. Maybe as a group, Fusco, us, the neighbors, we could make something happen.”
A residential neighborhood is directly behind the commercial lots, but Rotundo and others said they welcome projects that will add to their quality of life. They said they choose to live near downtown so that they can walk to restaurants, concerts and shows.
City officials said some development could be approved for the lot, including a two-story restaurant or a gas station.
Rotundo opposed the drive-through proposal because of the potential noise.
He said he envisioned cars blasting their music as they waited in line. The drive-through speaker would have faced his house and would likely have been the noisiest part of the project.
In a Daily Gazette test of noise downtown in 2006, the Burger King drive-through speaker was louder than every other commercial noise that could be heard outdoors, even outdoor music on bar patios.
It was also louder than car stereos, but it was not as loud as emergency vehicle sirens, which were the loudest sound downtown.