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Parking issues delay approval of McDonald's construction

| Monday, Oct. 15, 2001

It is now almost a certainty that McDonald's will soon be opening a new location in downtown Coraopolis.

Council has approved the development plans pending the completion of some final paperwork.

'We are 95 percent the way there in writing,' borough Solicitor Richard Start said at a council meeting last week.

Councilman Anthony Celeste voted against the approval and Councilwoman Shelley Jones abstained.

Celeste does not disapprove of a McDonald's restaurant, but he is concerned about the land swap involved in the development.

The plan calls for the borough to trade a metered parking area across from the borough building at 1012 Fifth Ave. for a 30-space parking lot, which would be constructed on the site of the former Finn Construction building adjacent to the current parking area.

The borough's potential to lose parking in the swap has been an issue since McDonald's officials first presented a preliminary site plan to council in May.

Councilwoman Terry Kirkpatrick said Wednesday that she estimates the borough will only lose seven or eight parking spaces.

In addition to the 30-space lot, the borough would have access to 17 spaces in the McDonald's parking lot and five spaces behind a nearby grocery store. Use of these spaces will be restricted to 20 minutes.

Resident Dan Denardo is concerned about the parking that the borough would lose.

Council President Mark Sike said that the borough only makes $37 a week from the parking meters in the lot where the restaurant would be constructed.

He said the increased tax base that McDonald's would bring far outweighs the lost revenue.

'Clearly from an income perspective, the McDonald's was the winner,' Start said.

It is the hope of borough officials that the McDonald's would also draw more customers to neighboring businesses.

Start did not anticipate council voting on this matter Wednesday because the paperwork was not finalized.

However, the developer asked Start if council could render conditional approval.

With the paving season ending around Thanksgiving or sooner depending on the weather, every day is critical to completing the development.

Delvin Miller, a real estate representative with McDonald's, said demolition of the Finn Construction building should begin next week.

The restaurant would open within 80 days of the start of construction.

Council voted in July to amend the borough's zoning ordinance to allow drive-through restaurants in commercial districts. The McDonald's proposal prompted the amendment.

McDonald's has been searching for an appropriate location in the borough for several years. Locating a site that is close to and visible from the one-way traffic on Fourth and Fifth avenues was a challenge, officials said.

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