What is with Chick-fil-A and Boca Raton?
Going into last week’s city council meeting, it appeared that all disagreements over a project featuring one of the chain’s popular restaurants had been resolved.
The developer had struck a deal with the neighborhood association that represents Harbour East, the community just east of the 2600 North Federal Highway site. The HOA thus had withdrawn its appeal of the site plan approval by the planning and zoning board.
Ele Zachariades, who represents the developer, told me in advance that the developer and the city had worked out differences over two conditions that city planners wanted as part of the approval. Presumably, the city then would withdraw its appeal of the approval.
Then everything fell apart.
Speaker after speaker criticized the project, which also would include another restaurant, a bank and an Aspen Dental. Those neighbors restated their worries that traffic at the Chick-fil-A’s drive-through lane would prevent cars from getting into and out of Harbour East.
“Any accidents will be on your hands,” one resident said to the council. He and others acknowledged the HOA’s deal but claimed that the board did not speak for them.
Technically, those comments should not have mattered, since the HOA had withdrawn the appeal. The staff also had worked things out. The developer had agreed to provide enough parking for all three phases of the project, satisfying one staff objection. The developer also would bury all utility lines on the site except for Florida Power & Light’s.
Approval, though, would not come that night. Indeed, it was unclear how things ended.
Zachariades said, “I was as confused as anyone. Things went off the tracks.” Councilman Andy Thomson said, “I was confused myself.”
After the council took no action, the decision apparently is that the project will come back in December for what may be a full-blown hearing. Councilwoman Andrea O’Rourke seemed open to such a review. And the staff may discuss other conditions related to traffic.
Last year, the staff challenged the planning and zoning board’s approval of the Chick-fil-A under construction in a shopping plaza on East Palmetto Park Road near Interstate 95. As I wrote, it seemed like the staff wanted to kill that project.
Because the North Federal Highway location is near homes, some of those ideas about how the city could respond to traffic problems may come back. Nothing about Chick-fil-A comes easily in Boca Raton.
New reports cites potential issue with Chick-fil-A drive-through
Coincidentally, a new report supports the idea that Chick-fil-A’s drive-through is potentially an issue.
QSR is a trade publication for the quick-service and fast casual food industry. According to its most recent survey, Chick-fil-A’s average drive-through service time was 325.47 seconds, or roughly 5.5 minutes. That compares to Taco Bell at 223 seconds and McDonalds at 291 seconds.
As the report also noted, however, Chick-fil-A’s drive-through has a 93 percent customer satisfaction rating. Only Arby’s is better, at 96 percent. Customers seem willing to tolerate waits that are the subject of debate in Boca Raton.
Today city commissioners and the DDA will discuss future of OSS
An important discussion about the future of Delray Beach’s Old School Square takes place today at noon.
City commissioners and representatives of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) will meet at the city’s golf club to begin deciding how the DDA will operate the cultural complex and how much it will cost. The meeting also will include the community redevelopment agency, the likely source of some—perhaps all—of that money.
City Manager Terrence Moore said the meeting will help to “define the roles.” The DDA proposed taking over Old School Square after the commission ended the lease with Old School Square for the Arts after 32 years.
Out of this and future meetings will come an agreement that the city commission, the CRA board and the DDA board would have to approve. In addition to money, another question is whether the staff will be city employees or work for the DDA. Moore said he doesn’t expect that level of detail to emerge from today’s meeting. I’ll update next week.
Trial begins for fatal Delray crash
Trial began this week for the man accused of vehicular homicide in a horrific crash that took place in Delray Beach more than four years ago.
Prosecutors allege that Paul Wilson Streater inhaled canned air before crashing his Chevy Silverado into a minivan carrying four family members vacationing from their home in Mexico. The crash occurred in April 2018 on South Federal Highway just north of the Boca Raton line.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Streater’s truck was going roughly 100 miles per hour. The crash propelled the Silverado into the rear seat compartment of the minivan.
Before the crash, investigators said, Streater and another man bought two cans of Dust-Off at a nearby Walmart. Inhaling canned air, known as huffing, can cut off oxygen to the brain and lead to increased risk-taking and loss of motor control.
Streater contends that the Silverado malfunctioned, causing the excessive speed. His defense thus is like that of John Goodman, whom a Palm Beach County jury convicted in the death of Scott Wilson 12 years ago. Goodman now is making a new defense based on supposedly inadequate counsel.
A jury is expected to get Streater’s case next week.
Arraignment for Neil Carson perjury case
Speaking of court cases involving Delray Beach, arraignment is set this morning for Neil Carson.
He’s the Kaufman Lynn Construction executive who in August falsely told the city commission that he was president of his neighborhood association and that the HOA supported the nearby Delray Central project on South Congress Avenue. Carson is not even on the HOA board.
Because the comment happened during a quasi-judicial proceeding in which speakers swore to tell the truth, Carson drew a charge of felony perjury. He posted a $50,000 bond.
Though there was talk of Carson writing the city to apologize, Moore said he hasn’t received anything. I’ll have more after the arraignment.