The date for a public hearing on a proposal to build a McDonald's restaurant in West Springfield in Fairfax County was incorrectly listed in a story in today's Virginia Weekly.The hearing will be at 2:30 p.m. Monday before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, which meets in the Massey Building in Fairfax City.
There was traffic congestion to consider. And noise was a factor. But finally, the fear of the "dawn to dark aroma of Big Macs and fries" convinced several hundred Fairfax County residents to fight a plan for a new McDonald's restaurant in their neighborhood.
The controversy began in December when plans were announced for a McDonald's near Rolling and Edinburgh roads in the booming area of West Springfield.
When residents got whiff of the plan, they mobilized to keep the golden arches out.
"We weren't totally against having a McDonald's here," says Les Fettig, president of the 700-home Saratoga Community Association Fettig claims that many residents actually wanted a McDonald's in the area -- but not as a next-door neighbor.
"That location was a stinker. . .," Fettig says. "The traffic and safety aspects were really important and the smell of the fries. . . ."
As proposed by McDonald's, the restaurant would have been only a few hundred yards from the Saratoga subdivision.
The Saratoga Association joined forces with three other citizens' groups to convince county officials that McDonald's should not be so close to their homes. Last week the Fairfax County Planning Commission voted to deny McDonald's zoning request, which would have allowed construction to begin.
The countyBoard of Supervisors is expected to make a final decision on the plan Tuesday.
A spokesman for McDonald's said the company is holding amicable discussions with area citizens and hopes it can arrive at a "mutually agreeable" solution. The spokesman refused to say what was being discussed, but said West Springfield is extremely attractive to McDonald's because of the phenomenal growth in the area.
Both sides agree that the dispute, particularly public hearings on the matter, has been notable for the lack of the acrimony that normally accompanies such controversies.
"I was getting concerned that we were being too reasonable," laughs Fettig.
Fettig admits that only a handful of nearly 1,000 homeowners represented by the four citizens' groups were strong opponents of the proposal. Those residents, Fettig said, were 20people within sniffing distance of the planned site.
"I wouldn't say there was a groundswell of opposition to McDonald's" said Fettig. "Most people either opposed the buildingor were neutral."
But the homeowners who would be able togaze on the golden arches from their front porches were adamant.
"At first I was a little upset," recalled Dave Waters, whose home is nearest to the proposed site. Waters, whomoved to the Saratoga subdivision two years ago, estimates it is about 275 feet from his "front stoop" to the proposed restaurant. "The more I thought about it the less I liked it."
Waters says he was concerned about the safety of his three children and other youngsters crossing busy roads for lunch at McDonald's. Waters also said he feared increased traffic and litter.