The D.C. Zoning Commission adopted regulations yesterday to put strict limits on where new fast-food restaurants can locate, keeping them out of small neighborhood shopping areas and away from residential areas.
The regulations, adopted after two years of debate, are an attempt to deal with complaints by residents in some areas that their neighborhoods were being overrun with traffic, noise and litter because of a proliferation of carryouts.
The regulations ban fast-food restaurants from the smallest neighborhood shopping areas, zoned C-1, such as near Chevy Chase Circle, along Connecticut Avenue between Fessenden Street and Nebraska Avenue and along Rhode Island Avenue NE between 17th and 24th streets.
In somewhat denser commercial areas -- such as around Wisconsin and M streets in Georgetown, on Capitol Hill along parts of Pennsylvania Avenue SE and along Georgia Avenue just south of the Maryland line, fast-food chains could open outlets only with specific approval by the Board of Zoning Adjustment.
In addition, outlets in these areas, zoned C-2-A, would have to meet a number of strict conditions, such as being 25 feet away from any residence district, providing sufficient off-street parking, and operating "so as not to become objectionable to neighboring properties."
Before the regulations were adopted on a four-month emergency basis in May, fast-food restaurants could locate in any commercial district without seeking city approval.
While approving the regulations in "final" form yesterday, the commission said it would reconsider next month whether to add restrictions in high-density commercial zones next to residential areas, most of them at Metro stops or at major intersections.
Zoned C-3-A, those include areas around the Friendship Heights and Tenleytown Metro stops in Northwest, the Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road Metro stops in Northeast and Hechinger Mall on H Street NE, according to commission staff.
As now written, the regulations would allow fast-food restaurants in those areas as a matter of right. But some community organizations and City Council members have objected to the lack of restrictions, and the commission asked the city planning office to analyze the impact of the approved regulations on adjacent neighborhoods.
Jerry A. Moore III, who represents Hardee's Hamburgers, Popeye's Famous Fried Chicken, and Church's Fried Chicken, called the regulations "a broad swipe at fast-food restaurants" and said the "innocent bystander" most hurt by the restrictions are inner-city youths who may find that fast-food restaurants are the only place they can find a first job.
"It's emotional," Moore said of the reactions in some neighborhoods to the introduction of fast-food restaurants. "It's like Asian flu in 1976. Everyone had to go out and get vaccinated."
The regulations do not affect fast-food restaurants that are already established.
In such shopping areas as that at 18th Street and Columbia Road NW, where some residents became upset a few years ago when two fast-food outlets located there, new ones would have to be at least 25 feet from a residence district unless a street separated the two; could not have a drive-through; and could not have the entrance facing a residential district.