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Third McDonald’s may be built in Watertown

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WATERTOWN — The city soon may be getting another McDonald’s restaurant, this one at Washington and Chestnut streets.

Sphere Development, Manlius, has proposed constructing a McDonald’s — where the Performance Automotive repair shop is now and next to the Sunoco convenience store — on a 0.65-acre site at 1200 Washington St. A house at 111 Chestnut St. would be demolished to make way for the restaurant.

The project is expected to come up at the city’s Planning Board meeting May 6. The Planning Board would have to approve the site plans and zoning change from Residence A to Neighborhood Business for the project to proceed.

Sphere Development submitted site plans to the city’s Planning Department on Tuesday, said Kenneth A. Mix, city planning and community development coordinator.

The 3,900-square-foot restaurant would join McDonald’s on Arsenal and State streets, both of which are larger restaurants and sit on bigger parcels.

“It’s not a very big site,” Mr. Mix said.

In 1997, McDonald’s withdrew a proposal to build a restaurant at the former site of Puff’s Ice Cream, now the location of a Dunkin’ Donuts shop, after failing to obtain an easement from a neighboring business.

The company also met with opposition from community members who wanted to save the ice cream shop and many who argued the fast food chain would draw too much traffic to the neighborhood.

Now a new McDonald’s could again come under fire.

Last year, neighbors living on Chestnut and nearby Elm streets opposed a small expansion of the Sunoco convenience store because it would have meant selling more beer and tobacco products close to four city schools. The residents also opposed previous expansion efforts involving a zoning change there, claiming it would change the character of their neighborhood.

On Wednesday, Ann Marie Marra Fiorentino, who owns the car repair shop property, said it’s “a very desirable location” for the new McDonald’s.

She noted it’s close to Watertown High School and Case Middle School and remains the last piece of property that has not been redeveloped in that section of Washington Street. Ms. Fiorentino also said neighbors would benefit from it.

“It’s good for everybody,” she said.

But if the McDonald’s proceeds, William Eisele will have to move his business, Performance Automotive.

Susan M. Burker, who owns the house at 111 Chestnut St., was one of the residents who opposed the Sunoco convenience store project last year.

Contacted Wednesday, she said she initially didn’t know anything about McDonald’s wanting to purchase her single-family home. When she was told that plans were submitted to the Planning Department on Tuesday, she refused to comment.

Sphere Development partner Kurt F. Wendler said the site and scope of the project were chosen to serve the southeast side of Watertown.

“We are prepared to move forward upon receiving all approvals,” Mr. Wendler stated in an email.

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