Officials of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis are dodging a few shots across the bow over a proposal to give naval personnel a McDonald's break.
The Navy's plans to let McDonald's raise the golden arches on naval station land directly across the Severn River from the academy has given area residents and local officials a bad case of indignation.
In fact, said Dennis Boxx of the academy's public relations office, "community concern has been such" that Rear Admiral Charles R. Larson, superintendent of the academy, has invited area residents to meet Tuesday night "to weigh the advantages and disadvantages" of adding Big Mac to the duty roster.
"I'd be against it, too," said Anne Arundel County Executive James Lighthizer. "That's a beautiful approach to the city."
Although the federally owned naval station property does not fall under the county's jurisdiction, Lighthizer said he would "very much like to sit down with Chuck Larson and discuss it."
The Big Mac bombshell exploded early this week, when residents of the Ferry Farms area received letters from Capt. John Bonds, the naval station commander, announcing the proposed construction and asking for reactions. Larson's decision to meet with the community came just in time to ward off efforts by Ferry Farms residents to obtain a temporary restraining order against the academy.
Boxx said the proposed McDonald's, for which preliminary bulldozing was to begin next week, is part of a package arranged a couple of years ago between the Navy brass and the burger biggies.
According to Boxx, the Navy has agreed to let McDonald's build 300 restaurants on naval properties around the world; the Annapolis establishment would be Number 65. Boxx said McDonald's would construct, own and operate the restaurant and would lease the land from the Navy.
The restaurant would face the exchange and commissary building, Boxx said, but would be outside the station's security gate, "so it would be available for use by civilians and whoever."
But Becky Kurdle, head of the county zoning and planning staff, scoffed, "That's like saying my house would make a good gas station because so many people pass by. That's not how you decide land use . . . or act neighborly."