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Developers may pursue Washington Street McDonald’s

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WATERTOWN — The Golden Arches may still be built on the city’s south side.

Gregory S. Widrick, co-owner of Sphere Development, Manlius, confirmed that he and his partner, Kurt F. Wendler, have not given up on building a McDonald’s restaurant on Washington Street.

He just would not say where, saying there were “several moving parts.”

On May 6, the city Planning Board unanimously rejected a zoning change that would have been needed to construct a McDonald’s at Washington and Chestnut streets after about 30 people attended a meeting to oppose the project.

“It’s still very preliminary, but that’s all I can say,” Mr. Widrick said Tuesday, a day after he went to a City Council meeting to see if the project came up.

While no one seemed to have noticed he was there, about 25 residents showed up in case they needed to speak against it once again.

But a public hearing on the proposed restaurant was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. June 2. The City Council is expected to vote that night whether it should be built.

On Tuesday, Kenneth A. Mix, the city’s planning and community development coordinator, said the developers may seek “other alternatives” for the project. Senior Planner Michael A. Lumbis also said he talked to the developers shortly after the May 6 Planning Board meeting.

During that discussion, he was told that the adjacent Sunoco may play a role in the project, although it might not necessarily mean buying the gas and convenience store but rather leasing a part of the property.

If they can work out all the details, the developers would reconfigure the building to fit it on the site, he said. It would then not require a zoning change, only a vote on the site plan.

Saying he’s heard the same scenario, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said council members may be forced to approve the site plans, even though council members Teresa R. Macaluso and Stephen A. Jennings are opposed to the project.

“I guess, they’re going to get their McDonald’s,” he said.

Sphere Development proposed constructing the McDonald’s on a 0.65-acre site currently occupied by the Performance Automotive repair shop, next to the Sunoco.

Plans called for a house at 111 Chestnut St., owned by Susan Burker, to be demolished to make way for the restaurant. It also took a zoning change for the Chestnut Street residence, from Residence A to Neighborhood Business.

But residents expressed concerns about increases in traffic, trash and noise and a decline in property values. The fast-food restaurant would change the character of their neighborhood, they said.

Some also expressed concerns about child obesity, given that Watertown High School and Case Middle School are right across the street from the proposed site at 1200 Washington St., owned by Ann Marie Marra Fiorentino.

The developers proposed a 3,900-square-foot restaurant with a single drive-up window, 22 parking spots, a one-way entrance and exit onto Washington Street and an entrance-exit on Chestnut Street.

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