Business

Rezone approved, but no fast-food allowed

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

After some extended discussion stretching over several meetings, the Federal Way City Council has agreed to change a parcel of land at South 312th Street and First Avenue South from office park zoning to neighborhood business zoning –– as long as there won’t be drive-through restaurants or coffee shops there.

Of the three comprehensive plan amendment requests submitted this year, council members had the most pressing concerns about the South 312th Street rezone request by Puget Center Partnership. A majority wanted to ensure fast-food restaurants were kept out of the development.

Drive-through opponents said such restaurants would draw too much traffic to the area, creating an incompatible use with the surrounding neighborhood.

The city defines a fast-food restaurant as one with a drive-through. Without a drive-through, what most people would consider a fast-food eatery –– like McDonald’s, Wendy’s or Taco Bell, for example –– would be simply a restaurant under city code.

Councilman Jack Dovey, chairman of the council’s Land-Use and Transportation Committee, opposed adding the prohibition against fast-food restaurants on the parcel, saying it was an infringement of the property owner’s rights. He added there’s no reason to prohibit something a developer might not ever build there.

Councilman Eric Faison disagreed, saying that rezoning the property from office zoning to neighborhood business ultimately allows more uses on the parcel than is currently allowed, even with the prohibitions.

“We’re opening it up to additional uses from the existing zoning, but it should be compatible with the neighborhood,” he said.

The fast-food restaurant question was a big enough issue for a majority of council members that they attached the drive-through prohibition before approving the rezone in 4-3 vote. The list of banned uses on the site also includes car washes, garages or service stations, bars, taverns or cocktail lounges, group homes or multi-family developments.

“What might seem like a fine point now might be a big issue later in a predominantly residential area,” Councilman Jim Ferrell said.

Councilman Mike Park said he’s against prohibiting fast-food restaurants on the parcel “in the interest of fairness.” A site nearby has a fast food restaurant with a drive-through, he said.

Ultimately, the Council voted 4-3 to approve the rezone with the added prohibition of fast-food restaurants on the site.

The types of businesses normally allowed in a neighborhood business zone include retail stores, banks and financial centers, restaurants and taverns, galleries, health clubs and vehicle service stations or garages. Also normally allowed are schools and daycares, housing, government facilities, churches, bus shelters, utilities facilities and parks.

The affected area is outside the downtown zone where, in a separate action June 7 aimed at controlling development, the council banned drive-through businesses, big-box retailers, strip malls, casinos, grocery outlets and pawn shops.

In addition to the one for Puget Center Partnership, two other comprehensive plan amendments approved this month by the council include:

• The proposed Kitts Corner development on 46 acres at South 336th Street and Pacific Highway South. Kathy McClung, director of the city’s Department of Community Development Services, said the developer’s requested reconfiguration of the road would slightly increase the commercial retail areas and slightly decrease the residential areas, but the change is minor. Now the developer will have to create a single master plan for the entire property that promotes pedestrian friendliness.

• Changes to the city’s housing code.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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