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Wilmette residents and advocacy groups increase their opposition to McDonald’s ahead of Village Board review

Neighbors to a proposed McDonald’s location have super-sized their opposition efforts because the Wilmette Village Board prepares to think about plans for the fast-food restaurant.

A bunch of the residents met with Chicagoland media on Wednesday, Jan. 3, after they detailed their concerns during an indication outside the location, 200 Skokie Blvd.

Kathryn Bauer, a close-by resident speaking for the group, said the neighbors “decided to be more proactive” after Wilmette’s zoning board really helpful McDonald’s plans by a one-vote margin, 4-3, on Dec. 6.

“We assumed given the necessities under a special-use application that the zoning board would turn it down. They didn’t, which we were shocked by,” Bauer said.

Bauer and company began a pair of petitions — one online and one not. They’ve garnered greater than 500 and greater than 200 signatures, respectively, as of press time. And the residents arrange Wednesday’s protest and press conference, which was attended by Chicago’s CBS News and Fox News, amongst others.

McDonald’s proposal calls for the development of a 4,100-square-foot restaurant with a drive-thru on the property on the northeast corner of Skokie Boulevard and Old Glenview Road, which has been vacant since Baker’s Square’s departure in 2019.

The property nearly became one other restaurant, Murray Bros. Caddyshack, recently, but in 2022 ownership scrapped the thought, which was also protested by some neighbors.

McDonald’s acquired the location in early 2023. In a memo to the Village Board in June 2023, Asst. Director of Community Development Lucas Sivertsen wrote that the Village had been aware of the fast-food giant’s interest in the location since at the least November 2022. Village Manager Mike Braiman noted on the time that in initial conversations neighbors were “universally” against McDonald’s.

Bauer reiterated on Wednesday that neighbors are concerned about air and noise pollution, traffic safety, property values and community character.

“The fear is … this opens the door for each other fast-food chain to open in Wilmette,” she said. “If one other one desires to are available, how do you say no. This decision could ceaselessly change the character of Wilmette.”

McDonald’s proposal will carry a positive zoning suggestion into the Wilmette Village Board on Tuesday, Jan. 9, when trustees will consider the restaurant’s request for variances related to its special use permit.

Braiman said the board will “rigorously and thoughtfully consider the input of residents” during its consideration of McDonald’s request.

McDonald’s Wilmette plans

In Wilmette, McDonald’s plans to have two access points from Skokie Boulevard. The northern entry would allow full incoming and outgoing traffic, while the southern one shall be a right-in, right-out drive.

The car parking zone included would have 28 parking stalls and the drive-thru could accommodate 17 stacked cars, McDonald’s representatives said in December. Between 15 and 18 employees are expected to be on site per shift.

Restaurant officials are estimating the Wilmette location could see roughly 1,000 transactions per day. Between 70-80 percent of holiday makers are expected to utilize the drive-thru, a facet of the plan that has drawn probably the most concern from each residents and Wilmette officials.

The drive-thru is planned for the west, south and east sides of the constructing and would feature dual ordering lanes (south) and two payment windows (east) on the side closest to lot lines of homes on Sunset Drive.

In its deliberations following McDonald’s presentation in December, Wilmette zoning commissioners quickly got here to a consensus that the unique proposal of operating until 1:30 a.m. was a key issue it couldn’t overlook. Commissioner Karl Camillucci motioned to incorporate a ten p.m. time-change amendment, which passed via a 7-0 vote.

McDonald’s application included a third-party traffic study that showed peak traffic near the intersection occurs between 7:30-8:30 a.m., noon-1 p.m. and 5-6 p.m. on weekdays, and 12:30-1:30 p.m. on weekends.

During these times, the study estimated McDonald’s could welcome: 90 cars (out and in) on weekday mornings, 115 on weekday afternoons, 70 on weekday evenings and 116 on weekend afternoons. As much as 50 percent of that traffic can be from impromptu customers, known as “pass-by traffic,” that will mitigate the traffic’s effect, the study reports.

While Wilmette has a Subway location, it does have any drive-thru fast-food options; though, the town does have multiple Starbucks locations, including one with a a drive-thru, and fast-casual chains, comparable to Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Panda Express, Jimmy John’s and Dairy Queen.

Nearby McDonald’s locations are on Green Bay Road in Winnetka (no drive-thru) and on Dempster Street in Skokie and Evanston.

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