After six years in business, Ben Jarratt, owner of Burger King, gets his drive thru and the Town of Herndon gets Baker Place, which is proposed to be renamed Washington Street if the change is approved by the Fairfax County street name and address office.
The Town Council unanimously approved, with Mayor Rick Thoeson absent, the conditional-use permit for a drive-thru lane at the Elden Street fast-food eatery Sept. 9, after Jarrett made revisions to his plan, which was denied twice before because the site was considered too small.
“This is not the same application this council heard before,” said Grayson Hanes, attorney for Jarratt. “Baker Place is now being built. ... We’ve done everything the town has asked.”
AMONG THE CHANGES Jarratt made to this proposal are the construction of Baker Place, on an abandoned town right of way, between Van Buren and Grant streets, which must be completed by July 1, 2006; the dedication of 26-feet of right of way on both Van Buren and Grant streets to the town; the dedication of a 26-foot right of way for Baker Place to the town; and the dedication of 10 feet of right of way along Elden Street to the town for future improvements connected to the Elden Street Improvement Plan.
In addition, the permit limits the hours of operation for the drive thru to 6 a.m.-11 p.m. and restricts the volume of the drive-thru speaker to no more than 50 decibels four feet between the vehicle and the speaker and it cannot be louder than daytime ambient noise beyond the property line.
The town’s Planning Commission approved the application 6-1 in July with Commissioner Bill Tirrell casting the opposing ballot. He renewed his objections to the plan before the Town Council saying, “It’s not about how wonderful a man Ben Jarratt is. ... It’s about traffic. What I’m terribly afraid of is traffic is going to back up beyond Van Buren Street, beyond Baker Place.”
Tirrell suggested the council include a provision, which allows the elected officials to revoke the permit if the drive thru proves to have an adverse effect on traffic. In fact, the traffic study by the town’s consultant, Wells and Associates, concluded the drive thru would not have a significant impact on traffic and the construction of Baler Place coupled with the reconfiguration of parking and the closure of the two existing entrances, would improve traffic flow on the site.
TIRRELL was the only person to speak out against the proposal last week on Tuesday.
“At the two previous hearings I was opposed to the drive thru,” said Betty Hayfield of Madison Forest Drive. “The application before you is acceptable. I’m appreciative of Mr. Jarratt for building Baker Place.”
The application even swayed council members who had voted down the project in the past.
“I voted against the application twice in a row. One of the reasons was the tightness of the site,” said Councilman John De Noyer. “I’m much happier. I think this one will work.”
Vice Mayor Carol Bruce, who had also previously denied the proposal, echoed De Noyer’s sentiment, saying “I support this. It’s a great pleasure to get to the point where I can.”
Jarratt said the application was different this time around because he had listened to the concerns over the years and addressed them.
Richard Curran of Astoria Circle said he was in favor of the proposal, but had a concern regarding the location of parking relative to the drive-thru lane.
“I have mixed emotions. I’m in favor of the window, but not in favor of the parking situation especially for those less able or with wee little ones,” he said.
Curran pointed out that in order to enter the restaurant from some parking spaces customers would have to cross in front of the drive-thru traffic lane, which could be dangerous for the elderly, people with disabilities or families with small children. Hanes said they would take another look at the parking, however, said it was “impossible to protect against everything.”