Back on the menu
Formerly quashed McDonald’s may be built after all

By Melanie Boyung - News Graphic Staff

April 30, 2015

GRAFTON — Plans for a special anniversary McDonald’s in the Grafton Commons development may be making a comeback, as recent decisions regarding it appear to have been made on faulty information.

Progress for the 60th anniversary McDonald’s designed for Grafton, to be located in the freeway interchange district as part of Grafton Commons, was halted last month when the Village Board voted 5-2 not to approve a change to the C-4 zoning ordinance to include a conditional use for drive-thru facilities. Obtaining that approval had been stipulated by the Plan Commission as a condition of the project receiving a conditional use permit to proceed.

The matter was brought to the Village Board under the belief that the property in the plan, 1.85 acres just east of Kohler Credit Union on Highway 60, was tied to the C-4 zone and the change would be necessary. It has recently come to light that the planned use development ordinance affecting the property “did not include the language that identified that the C-4 was the underlying zoning district,” according to village administrator Darrell Hofland.

Hofland said that PUDs normally are tied to a zoning district in Grafton. The issue was a late addition to the agenda for Tuesday evening’s Plan Commission meeting.

“Due to the lack of notifying the Plan Commission that the planned use development did not contain linkage to the C-4 zoning district, village staff is asking the Plan Commission to reconsider their action from their March meeting,” Hofland said.

Brenna Sadler for Continental Properties, the company working on the anniversary McDonalds project, said that the Plan Commission erred in stipulating that the board needed to approve the zoning change as a condition of issuing the permit. She said the PUD is not in C-4 and does allow for drive-thru facilities, and as such no change or approval was necessary from the Village Board.

“We think this (the McDonalds with a drive-thru) is consistent with the standards of the planned use development,” Sadler said.

Continental Properties took the matter to the village Board of Zoning Appeal. An attorney for the company also appeared at Tuesday’s Plan Commission meeting, requesting that the commission take no action before the appeal is dealt with; Sadler said in an email that to take action now while an appeal is pending would be illegal on the village’s part.

The Plan Commission did take action, unanimously voting to place the McDonalds issue on the May Plan Commission agenda. Hofland said that council from the village attorney, Mike Herbrand, indicated there is no legal issue with the Plan Commission reconsidering the matter.

Hofland said that the matter the Plan Commission will have to decide is whether allowing a drive-thru would be a minor or major change to the PUD ordinance. The ordinance passed in 2006 for the Grafton Commons PUD did not specifically prohibit drive-thru facilities, but also did not explicitly allow them.

Hofland said the original plan did include provisions for the development to have a restaurant in the location under consideration, but not a fast food business. “Their goal was for it to be a sit-down restaurant,” he said.

Sadler said the McDonalds, which would be the only one of its kind specially designed for the 60th anniversary, is “an essential part of the Grafton Commons, kind of the finishing touch.”

“Continental Properties has invested a lot of time, a lot of resources in this project,” she said.

“What’s confusing to us is that we’ve been working with the village for over a year, the architectural board and plan commission approved the project, and then suddenly the Village Board says no,” Sadler said.

“For them to change things at this point is inappropriate.”

Hofland said that if the Plan Commission decides that allowing a drive-thru would constitute a major change to the PUD ordinance, the matter of whether or not to allow the McDonalds would go back to the Village Board, where a public hearing would be held and the final decision made. If the Plan Commission decides that the change being considered is minor, the issue would not return to the Village Board, and the Plan Commission would have the authority to make a final decision itself.

Hofland said also that Continental Properties had applied for a building permit as of Wednesday morning. While he said he could not comment on whether or not it would be issued, he did reiterate that the stipulated condition for a permit in the project, that the Village Board approve a zoning conditional use change, has not been met.

Melanie Boyung can be reached at .