Pasadena zoning hearing officer Paul Novak on Wednesday evening approved a conditional use permit (CUP) that will allow for the establishment of the second Chick-fil-A location in Pasadena.
Novak signed off on the CUP after he agreed with city staff that the proposed project complied with all applicable provisions of the zoning code and conformed with the goals and objectives of the city’s general plan.
The proposed 2,755 square foot drive through business will replace the existing 2,815 square foot structure that was formerly a Carl’s Jr. at 774-790 North Lake Avenue.
Located within 150 feet of a residential zoning district, the new fast food restaurant will operate between 5:30 a.m. and 12 a.m., as approved by the hearing officer.
In December 2020, city staff upon review recommended the rejection of the chicken joint’s application for CUP based on the findings that the circulation plan for the project would not provide adequate area for safe queuing and maneuvering of vehicles.
The applicant’s original proposal includes 35 parking spaces and drive through lanes which can accommodate only 16 vehicles.
After staff decided to reject the original proposal, the applicant requested for continuance so it can address concerns raised. After holding discussions with the community, the applicant returned to staff with revisions to its original proposal.
The revised plan now proposes an improved circulation plan. Specifically, the applicant proposes an increase to the vehicle stack from 16 to 26 cars as well as the parking from 35 to 40 spaces.
Novak, who was also the hearing officer who handled the application in 2020 said that he received over 20 letters expressing opposition to the original proposal back then but for the revised proposal, he received only six letters of opposition and 21 letters of support.
“The original plan would not have provided the queuing necessary for a Chick-fil-A given the volume of demand that is required.”
“This circulation plan is vastly better than the original circulation plan,” said Novak. “Given everything before me, I concur that the findings can be made.”
Novak also concurred with staff and approved the proposed construction of a traffic signal at the Lake Avenue/Boylston Street intersection to control and monitor the traffic in and out of the fast food restaurant to prevent queueing conflicts onto public right-of-way.
“I am convinced from what the Department of Transportation is saying, which is that that signal should be there,” said Novak.
Contents of the letters expressing opposition to the proposed project include concerns about potential increased traffic, noise, trash and air pollution in the site once the city approves the construction of the chicken joint.
In opposing the project, some said there is no need for another Chick-fil-A as there are already enough chicken restaurants along Lake Avenue. Some also said the hours of operations should be reduced, considering the site is near a residential neighborhood.
“I am not going to make a change to the hours of operations,” Novak said, adding that most of the other fast food restaurants in the city have operating hours similar to what the applicant has requested.
Novak also stressed that Lake Avenue is the major north-south commercial corridor in the entire city.
“If you can’t put a Chick-fil-A on a commercially zoned property in North Lake Avenue, I’m not sure whether there is an appropriate location in the city of Pasadena,” Novak added.