Plum zoning panel considers McDonald's relocation proposal

| Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, 9:00 p.m.

The McDonald's restaurant on Route 286 might move — though not far.

Officials with the fast-food restaurant in Plum want to change up the business and relocate it less than a mile away to the intersection of Route 286 and New Texas Road. The site previously was home to a car dealership and is across New Texas Road from Burger King.

“More than 70 percent of (McDonald's) customers utilize the drive-thru for service,” Mark Mox of McIlvried, Didiano & Mox, a consulting, engineering and surveying firm hired by McDonald's for the project in Plum, told members of the Plum Zoning Hearing Board last week. “They want to have a side-by-side drive-thru so that two people can place orders at the same time.”

The board handed McDonald's a split decision in its goal to relocate the restaurant.

Zoning hearing board members approved McDonald's request for a variance to reduce the number of parking spots from 59 to 46.

The board, though, denied the fast-food restaurant's request for a variance to erect a 35-foot sign. A borough ordinance sets the maximum height for a freestanding business sign at 25 feet.

Mox said fewer parking spaces are needed at the proposed site because the new building at 3,911 square feet is smaller than the current building and will not contain an indoor play area where “people stay longer.” The current McDonald's has an indoor play area.

Mox said a survey of parking at the current site revealed that at the peak hours of business 27 parking spots are in use — 20 for customers and seven for employees.

“Forty-six (parking spaces) will provide sufficient parking for this business,” Mox said.

Mox said the intersection of Route 286 and New Texas Road is a favorable location for the restaurant.

“McDonald's is not the type of business people will get in their car and drive to,” Mox said. “People in their car are diverted there (while they are out). The two roads (286 and New Texas Road) helps with traffic. People can turn from 286 and New Texas.”

Mox said McDonald's requested a 35-foot sign to provide sufficient clearance for delivery trucks driving under it.

Mox said a 35-foot sign also would accommodate overhead utilities.

The height also would make the fast-food business recognizable to motorists, Mox said.

“Signage is to identify the entrance,” Mox said. “Motorists can anticipate (the entrance) as they are driving down the road.”

Board member Ruth Grant asked McDonald's officials the reason they want to move “from one point to another on 286.”

Joe Bertucci, area real estate manager for McDonald's said the new location will translate into more business.

“We figure there will be significant increases in sales if we reposition ourselves at the intersection, and it will be better and more convenient for customers,” Bertucci said.

Members rendered their decisions on the variance requests following a nearly half-hour, closed-door session.

Board member Alan Vento believes McDonald's could comply with the height ordinance.

“We've had other corporations just as large as McDonald's comply with the regulation,” Vento said. ”I felt they could figure out a way to comply.”

Zoning hearing board Solicitor Warner Mariani told McDonald's officials they have 30 days to appeal the sign variance denial to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

Greg Protch, area construction manager for McDonald's, said officials will discuss their options.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or

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