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Parent Issue
Day
8
Month
February
Year
1974
OCR Text

The all-American hamburger pit is alive and lurking in the Ann Arbor Planning Department, waiting for a hearing before City Council. The McDonalds proposed for Maynard bet ween iberty and Williams, has become the center of a controversy on citizens' rights to control commercial development. Citizen action had centered on a petition drive and a theatrical demonstration at the proposed site last Thursday, February 7. The demonstration featured guerilla theater and local speakers to emphasize opposition to the plastic restaurant which, may replace the historical Nickel's house. PETITION DRIVE UNDERWAY The petitions, with over 1 500 signatures already in only three days as of Feb. 6. will be given to City Council to emphasize the strong sentiment by local residents against this kind of development. The petition reads: As residents of Ann Arbor, we are opposed to the destruction of the historie Nickels House on Maynard Street and the construction of a McDonald's Restaurant on its site. We ask the Ann Arbor City Council to reject the proposed McDonald 's for the following reasons: A McDonald 's on Maynard Street would créate an intolerable litter situation in the area, covering adjacent streets and walks with plastic and paper garbage. McDonald's would aggravate the already congested parking and traffic situation in the area. McDonald's fare fails to meet human nutritional needs. McDonald's would threaten the variety of eating in the State Street area by driving independent restaurants out of business. McDonald's Corporation has a high worker turnover rate because ofpoor working conditions and low pay. It has consistently fought federal minimum wage legislation. The McDonald's chain resists hiring women, and has ?xcluded blacks f mm receiving franchises. For all these reasons, we feel that the Maynard Street McDonald's would be a detriment to our communitv. SHOPPING CENTER MENTALITY Whether the proposed McDonald's can be stopped is jncertain. A petition drive in the past has forestalled the mplementation of another plastic restaurant-Burger Kinj King which had been proposed for the corner of Maynard ind Liberty. But the Republican majority on City Council tend to new development, no matter what kind, as beneficial to he city. Their primary concern is commercial growth, ather than oeorjle's needs or wants. The Republican's true colors came to the front two weeks ago when they approved the Packard-Platt shopping center over a great deal of community protest. This development will put the largest grocery store in the whole city in an área where trafile is already heavy and there is no obvious need for the center. Councilman Robert Henry (Rep.-3rd ward), who had campaigned against the development, did an about face. Henry admitted it might make no one very happy to accept the shopping center, but he stated: "I think it is in the long term best interest of the city to get this development under way." Councilman Lloyd Fairbanks (Rep.-5th ward) said, "The people out there don't own that land," when reminded by the minority Council members that the residents sirongly opposed the development. Fairbanks indicated that if the people really wanted to stop it, they could have tried to buy the land. "They think the property owners can develop it any way they want, no matter what the people in that borhood want," Gerald DeGrieck (HRP-lst ward) said of the Republicans. "The people of that area ought to know that we could stop that shopping center. This development should be killed." All the Republicans on City Council voted for the shopping center, despite campaign promises last April that they would work to defeat it. It should be pointed out that the Packard-Platt shopping center is in the midst of a Republican-dominated ward. The people who are now angry are not the usual student-young people-progressiveliberals in town, but the Republicans' own supporters. In twö months, those same people will be voting for a new Council member from that ward. ANOTHER HEARING? Interest in the McDonald's issue remains strong, andCouncil has been requested to hold another public hearing on the proposal. At the Council meeting of February 4, the owner of the Betsy Ross Shoppe Restaurant returned to speak during the audience participation at the end of the meeting. He accused Council Republicans of trying to hide the McDonald's proposal by sneaking it onto the agenda long after the first public hearing had been held. He, like many others, had been led to believe that McDonald's would be on the agenda for that meeting, and had gotten the incorrect information from the mayor's ow"n office. DeGrieck supported the man's request for another public hearing, but Stephenson clearly feit there was no more to be said. DeGrieck proposed that the issue should be announced at a Council meeting a week before it went onto the agenda. He wanted it to be made vey public, so that Republicans could not wait until opposition dies down and then sneak the proposal through. THE POLITICS OF McDONALD'S The McDonald's has been kicking around City Hall for a long time, but no defmite date for the final hearing has yet been set. The Planning Department currently claims it will be another two weeks (meaning it would be on the the agenda for February 1 8), and that it will definitely be decidid by the end of this month. Interest in the issue began to gather steam when the SUN ran a story last fall, reporting that both the McDonalds and Burger King Restaurants had been proposed to the city within half a block of each other. At that time, the proposal called for the usual red plastic structure complete with golden arches for Maynard Street, the al home of all McDonald's. Because resentment is still strong over the building of the Gino's eyesore two years ago, the Planning Department warned developers that the city had an ordinance which would prevent another ugly fast-food chain restaurant from being built in the area. The developers agreed to work out a compromise, and hired the local architectural firm of Hobbs and Associates, to design a building which would maintain the atmosphere of the neighborhood. The firm developed a two-story brick structure which has a terrace for tables, and inside seating for 250. The Planning Commission then approved the new obnoxious building, praising the developers for "saving the trees." Those trees are about the only green on the whole cement block, already dominated by a parking structure and Tower Plaza. The plan was to have gone to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a hearing under a city ordinance which limits the development of drive-in fast-food places in the State Street area. The ordinance Was passed following the Gino's disaster. However, City Attorney Edward Pear announced continued on page 5 The Republican majority has already shown that it does not feel it must listen to local citizens when it comes to the development of business interes ts in the city.