Drawings submitted by Chick-fil-A show what the proposed new restaurant would look like at the corner of Cochrane Road and Sutter Boulevard. Photo: Contributed

Following a lengthy discussion about drive-thru traffic and the complaints of a neighboring commercial property, the Morgan Hill Planning Commission approved two key permits for a new Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant off Cochrane Road. 

The new 5,000-square-foot restaurant is proposed on a 1.63-acre site at the corner of Sutter and Butterfield boulevards. The property is the former site of Marie Callender’s and Forbes Grill restaurants. 

The Chick-fil-A developer, 4G Development and Consulting, plans to demolish the existing vacant building on the property and replace it with a new structure with about 74 interior dining seats, an outdoor patio that can accommodate up to 20 patrons and a two-lane drive-thru with a queuing capacity of about 55 vehicles, according to a city staff report.

The planning commission on Sept. 26 approved both a conditional use permit and design permit for the new Chick-fil-A on a 5-1 vote. Commission Chair Wayne Tanda voted against the permits due to an ongoing disagreement with a neighboring property owner who is worried about the impact of cut-through traffic in their parking lot, although Tanda said he supports all other aspects of the restaurant plan. 

Joanne Conca, one of the owners of an office building in the adjacent Evergreen Village shopping center, told the commission that she and Chick-fil-A’s representatives have discussed her concerns but no resolution has been achieved. Specifically, Conca is worried that “a significant amount of Chick-fil-A” patrons will enter her property from Jarvis Drive, increasing traffic through her parking lot as motorists attempt to avoid a stop sign and other congestion that will be created by the new restaurant on Sutter Boulevard, Conca wrote in a Feb. 9 email to the commission.  

“It’s still something we’re trying to work out,” Conca told the commission. “I hope the city would also be concerned about this too. If anything could be done from your point of view, that would be appreciated.”

A Chick-fil-A spokesperson at the Sept. 26 meeting said the developer had offered to place portable cones in a position between the restaurant’s space and Conca’s parking lot in order to discourage motorists from using the lot as a travel lane. However, Conca had declined that offer, according to the Chick-fil-A developer. 

Conca said she has asked Chick-fil-A to install permanent speed bumps in her parking lot to deter cut-through traffic, but the restaurant developer had not responded to that request. 

The approved design permit resolution lists many conditions for the project, one of which is that the restaurant developer and the owners of the Conca property must agree on Chick-fil-A’s plan to add landscaping and paving to an existing driving aisle within an easement adjacent to the Chick-fil-A site.

Tanda said he would have liked to see something more concrete in the permit resolution encouraging further negotiations between Chick-fil-A and Conca. 

“There will be some impact on that property if nothing is done,” Tanda said. 

Other commissioners suggested that Conca implement her own measures to prevent potential parking lot traffic, such as with removable bollards or the installation of speed bumps at her expense. 

Another condition of the Chick-fil-A project requires the developer to construct a median on Sutter Boulevard across from the restaurant site’s driveway to restrict left turns from vehicles exiting the restaurant. Those leaving Chick-fil-A onto Sutter will be able to make only a right turn. 

A new driveway required at the site’s Cochrane Road frontage will be a one-way entrance only, according to city staff. 

The project also includes about 8,400 square feet of new landscaping and sidewalk improvements. 

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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