A city staff committee voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend against approval of a new turnaround aisle that would wipe out an existing outdoor dining area at the front of the McDonald’s restaurant on Dempster Street in Evanston.
A site plan showing the turnaround-aisle and the planned dual drive-thru lanes at the rear of the building.
James Quinn, an attorney for McDonald’s, told the city’s Design and Project Review Committeee the company believes the new turnaround on the site would help reduce traffic problems caused by drivers who enter from Dodge Avenue and then go around the building and swing out onto Dempster Street to get in line to place orders at the drive-thru.
But Johanna Nyden, the city’s community development director, said the change would make the site less safe for pedestrians.
“We do so much in this community to make it more walkable and pedestrian friendly,” Nyden said.
The drive aisle to the existing drive-thru window. (Google Maps)
Noting a Google Maps image that showed teens lingering in the drive aisle through the parking lot, she added, “Hundreds of young people walk through the neighborhood to go to McDonald’s and Burger King every day”
She suggested the new turnaround lane would only create more conflict points between cars and pedestrians.
The city’s zoning administrator, Scott Mangam, suggested reconfiguring the drive-thru so that drivers entering the property from Dodge could get in line without having to loop back out onto Dempster.
City Engineer Lara Biggs said the new design might improve safety for vehicles, but it doesn’t maximize safety for pedestrians.
The plans next go for a hearing before the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Sept. 25.