The newest addition to Shoppes on Granada, located east of Lowe’s Home Improvement, may be a Starbucks with a drive-thru, similar to the one being constructed on the beachside. The Starbucks on West Granada Boulevard would relocate to the site.
This identity of the planned business at that location was not known until the June 13 Planning Board meeting where the officials considered approval of a special exception allowing a “drive-thru restaurant” in Phase Two of the development. That area of Granada Boulevard is zoned commercial, but a drive-thru restaurant requires a special exception.
At the meeting, Chelsea Place residents protested increased traffic and Planning Board members indicated they might vote against approval of the special exception, also because of traffic concerns.
Roger Strcula, of Upham Inc., engineer for Ferber Construction Management LLC, had said that the developer did not want to reveal the proposed drive-thru because he did not have a letter of intent signed by the company. But after much of the negative discussion, he came forward to reveal it was a Starbucks, and this seemed to ease the minds of the Planning Board members.
“I don’t compare a restaurant with a Starbucks,” said board member Harold Briley.
The Planning Board voted to approve the Special Exception in a three-to-two vote after two hours of resident and board comments. The City Commission will make the final decision in one reading on July 30.
Al Jorczak made a motion to approve the special exception with a limit for a 2,400-square-foot building and Lori Tolland seconded. The size limit was added to prevent a larger business with more traffic impact from being built.
Strcula said the proposed building is too small for a McDonalds, for example.
The only no votes were from Chairman Doug Thomas and board member Angeline Schull who had both said traffic is a problem in the area.
RESIDENTS OPPOSE EXCEPTION
Five Chelsea Place residents spoke at the meeting, saying they already have a hard time pulling out onto Granada Boulevard. They said they have to wait until the stop light at the Lowe’s entrance is red for traffic to clear, but now people exiting Shoppes on Granada add traffic even when the light is red.
Too much traffic also prevents them from accessing the median cut-thru at their exit, forcing them to travel east before making a U-turn when they want to go west.
“I can’t believe there’s not another use that would generate a profit,” a resident said, adding that noise is also a factor.
“I’m tired of hearing the dumpsters being emptied,” he said.
One resident said the city should consider a wall to keep out noise and uninvited people from entering Chelsea Place.
Board member G.G. Galloway pointed out that Chelsea Place has continued to grow and residential adds to a busy Granada Boulevard.
“Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” he asked.
Galloway also suggested Chelsea Place residents use their exit onto Hand Avenue, but residents at the meeting said it’s not fair to ask them go out of their way and use the south exit. They also said Hand Avenue will probably also see more traffic and development in the future.
After it was revealed the restaurant may be a Starbucks, Thomas, in an unusual move, asked the residents at the meeting if they would like to appoint a spokesman and speak again.
After a break, two residents spoke, saying that they still opposed the special exception, because it would stay with the property, and someday a fast-food drive-thru could be built. They said they would prefer the city leave the zoning as it is, with no special exceptions that could increase traffic.
The board members added the limit on square footage to alleviate some of the concerns.
The new drive-thru would occupy a two-tenant building on the east end of the property and the other business has not been named. Phase Two also contains the Aldi Grocery Store under construction, T.D. Bank and Salzburg Animal Hospital. The old Salzburg building has been demolished.
A traffic study in the meeting packet showed the FDOT believes Granada can handle the traffic flow. Strcula said FDOT is working on synchronization of the stop lights on Granada to improve the traffic.
Thomas said they had been hearing about the improved synchronization for a long time and asked Planning Director Steven Spraker when FDOT will finally work on it. Spraker said he expected 2020 but had no new information.
Thomas said he was suspicious of traffic studies that allow more and more development.
“At some point you have to say wait a minute,” he said.