Carrols, the largest Burger King franchisee in the United States, brought a proposal to the Planning Commission June 10 to build a new Burger King at 31806 Grand River Ave.

Carrols, the largest Burger King franchisee in the United States, brought a proposal to the Planning Commission June 10 to build a new Burger King at 31806 Grand River Ave.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

Neighbors oppose newly proposed Burger King

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published June 28, 2019


FARMINGTON — A newly proposed Burger King in Farmington is being strongly opposed by neighboring residents who believe the proposed site remains unfit for a fast-food establishment.

On June 10, Carrols Corp., the country’s largest Burger King franchisee, proposed building a new 3,065-square-foot Burger King restaurant on the corner of Grand River Avenue and Lakeway Street, at 31806 Grand River Ave. The site was last home to Paramount Home Care Inc., and a bank prior to that.

The previous Burger King location in town, 32704 Grand River Ave., recently closed down and was bought, and is being repurposed as a different food establishment by a new tenant.

Hallie Bard, a Lakeway resident for the past seven years, believes city staff has worked hard to establish a vision for the city and the residential areas within it. While she and other neighbors aren’t opposed to a new Burger King coming to town, she thinks the proposed placement of the new Burger King isn’t consistent with the vision the city has laid out.

“This is absolutely not about a neighborhood of people who are rallying against bringing business into Farmington, or we’re not all against fast food,” Bard said. “It just doesn’t seem to line up with what I’m seeing in our city’s master plan and within the zoning codes. It doesn’t seem to mesh well.”

Residents opposing the placement of the proposed Burger King are worried about increased traffic, safety concerns, noise, lighting, the smell, an increase in rodents and a decrease in their homes’ property values.

They said the proposed site is incompatible with the current characteristics of their residential neighborhood behind it.

Ronn Nadis, an attorney with the Farmington Hills-based Couzens Lansky, representing Carrols for this planning proposal, said he believes Carrols has implemented a variety of methods to hear and understand the concerns of the neighboring residents.

Nadis said that beyond listening to concerns at both Grand River Corridor Improvement Authority meetings and Planning Commission meetings, and reading the letters sent by neighboring residents, Carrols has also begun to reach out to individual residents to try to better understand their concerns and how the franchisee can allay those concerns.

“We’d like to be good neighbors, and we understand the neighbors are worried that some big changes will occur, but we’re fairly confident we’ll be able to fit right in and be good neighbors for the people that live on Lakeway (Street) and for the community as a whole,” said Nadis.

At the June 10 Planning Commission meeting, Nadis and his colleagues — Amanda Aldridge, the real estate manager for Carrols, and Mark Mathe, an engineer with the Mannik Smith Group working with Carrols — said they were working to alleviate residents’ concerns of traffic, smell and more by closing off the Lakeway Street entrance to the site, as well as using existing and additional landscaping to help block potential smells, sounds and light that may seep into the residential area.

Nadis said Carrols is working to separate the site from the residential area.

Bard, however, said she doesn’t think Carrols’ answers to their concerns will make any difference.

“They’re doing a nice job with claiming to really take our concerns to heart, but they don’t live in this neighborhood, so there’s little things they’re not aware of,” said Bard. “I don’t think it’s going to play out in the way they intend it to.”

Not all residents, however, are opposed to a new Burger King at the planned site. Laura Becks, who lives behind the previous Burger King location while it was still operating, said she’d like to see another fast food joint join the Farmington community, because it provides a cheaper alternative to the more expensive restaurants downtown.

“I’m all for Burger King or some other fast food in the downtown Farmington area,” said Becks, “because you have people who are on a fixed budget, or elderly people who don’t have a lot of money. All those restaurants in downtown Farmington are trendy and expensive.”

Becks said she and her husband didn’t experience excess noise, odors or traffic while living behind the previous Burger King location.

A public hearing is scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. July 8 for people to voice their opinions on the project. The Planning Commission can then choose to approve the permit with or without specific conditions, table the discussion, or deny the permit.

Bard said she and her neighbors have been studying the city’s zoning codes and ordinances.

“We’re confident we’re going to be able to protect the foundation of our neighborhood based on the principles that are set forth by our elected officials,” she said.