Chik-Fil-A – Maryland Avenue NE – Opens In March 2017
Neighbors Express Concern about Impact of Traffic on Neighborhood
by Larry Janezich
ANC6A’s Economic Development and Zoning Committee, chaired by Resident Commissioner Brad Greenfield, heard an “informational presentation” Wednesday night from Chik-Fil-A representatives on the opening of the company’s latest DC outlet at 1401 Maryland Avenue, NE.
John Martinez, Chick-fil-A Development Manager, told an ANC6A Committee and more than 30 nearby neighbors that the restaurant will open in “March” (he sounded hopeful).
The new restaurant is a matter of right development and no additional zoning approvals are necessary. The venue is 100% drive through and walk-up with limited outside seating only. The restaurant will open at 6:00am for breakfast and close at 10:00pm, six days a week, and close on Sunday.
More than 30 neighbors of the restaurant turned out for the meeting in Sherwood Recreation Center to express concerns about how the development will affect their neighborhood, given the popularity of the sandwich chain. Of most concern was entrance to and exit from the site and how the expected traffic congestion will affect nearby resident’s access to G Street. In addition, residents raised concerns about traffic safety issues and the difficulty of finding parking, as patrons of Checkers often parked in the neighborhood to eat. (Afterward, neighbors complained, the wrappers would get thrown out the window, littering the street.)
Ckik-fil-A representatives were quick to offer assurances that as problems arose, they would be addressed and promised to “look at” ways to mitigate potential traffic issues.
One issue which did not seem to receive enough attention was rodent management. Although the company is having trash picked up six days a week, has a contract with a pest control company, and is demolishing and rebuilding the trash storage area with three brick walls and gated composite doors, it does not appear to be rodent proof under the “best operational procedures” being pushed by ANC6B for Barracks Row. Given the higher volume of patrons, more trash, and excess food likely to be generated by the site, it seems that this concession for a corporation this size – one who professes to want to be a good neighbor is a reasonable one.
Martinez left the attendees with: “When we come into a community, we want to be part of the community. We’re absorbing information – we’re a sponge – we’ll react where we can.”
All well and good. Still, as reassuring as “react where we can” appears to be, it provides no real commitment to the community. And the ANC is powerless to effect any control over the restaurant, absent a requirement for other city agency approvals. This will leave residents with one avenue of redress if there are problems – complaining to the city’s regulatory agencies, whose record of enforcement shows evidence of consistently giving the benefit of the doubt to the commercial enterprise.
The community suggested company representatives come back to give an update during the construction period, and a re-appearance before the committee was tentatively scheduled for January.