Planning commission gives nod to Taco John’s, Burger King sites
By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — The city will plan to welcome two new restaurants to the area in form of a Taco John’s and a second Burger King.
Planning officials have green-lighted construction for a Taco John’s at 1616 Academy Ave, and a Burger King to the at 1617 Schofield Ave. These would be constructed close together, neighboring Trig’s grocery store.
In October, Cave Enterprises and Pentex Restaurant Group proposed bringing the two fast food establishments to the area. Cave Enterprises own and operate many chains across the Midwest, and opened Burger King on Highway 10 in September.
However, initial plans were met with some pushback by officials. Critiques included narrow drive-thru, and enter/exit lanes that could lead to potential accidents on Academy Avenue for the Taco John’s site. After some tweaking by increasing setbacks, more space has been allotted for the properties, giving Taco John’s a space of 2,316 sq. feet, and Burger King with 3,257 sq. feet.
According to text from the city agenda:
“The proposal will not result in an over-concentration of high density living facilities in one area so as to result
in a substantial or undue adverse effect on the neighborhood, on the school system, and the social and
protective services systems of the community.”
Twice the required amount of trees will be planted on the property, as well as two benches along the Division Street sidewalk and additional landscaping per city staff recommendations.
Still, the proposal was met with aesthetic concerns, as well as if the use of the property is in the best interest of the city from various alders. This includes District 1 Alder Tori Jennings, District 8 Alder Cathy Dugan, and District 9 Alder Mary McComb, who all voiced concerns in a public hearing, referencing a study in progress of the Division Street area of best land-use by Vanderwal Architects.
“We have only just started our collaboration with Vanderwal Architects which will show what is possible for this corridor,” said Jennings. “So my questions are: ‘are you going to maintain the status quo, or look to the future to what North Division could become with careful planning and strength of conviction to make it so?'”
“We need to look at this city-wide. Where do we start making decisions for the long-term of the city versus ‘where do we stop making, perhaps, more pragmatic decisions that have shorter-term gains’.” said McComb.
Some on hand felt that bringing the two establishments to the area would be beneficial, as it creates a larger tax base for the city.
“This plot has been vacant for years and years — if we’re able to get someone in there that can end up providing more tax base it would be a great idea,” said District 11 Alder Shaun Morrow. “With Sentry right there, SPASH right there — I don’t think there would be a problem getting the business that it needs.”
Planning Commission member Daniel Hoppe explained that he feels Cave and Pentex have made proper adjustments to the design according to staff recommendations from the October meeting.
“I think it’s important that the developers did take our comments from the previous meeting and made some good adjustments,” said Hoppe. “I agree that those properties and the layout of them are limited — but I think they took into consideration our comments.”
Future neighbors Trig’s was in favor of the proposal, stating as such in an email to the city.
A final vote for whether or not the proposal will succeed will still have to go through Common Council this month.