Despite multiple concerns voiced by Cahaba Heights community members, the Vestavia Hills City Council unanimously approved the rezoning of three land parcels along Crosshaven Road and Wall Street during its Feb. 25 meeting, making way for a new Chick-fil-A franchise.
The proposed franchise location will be located at 3949 Crosshaven Drive, in a cleared lot between Zaxby’s and a former Rite Aid.
Three residential parcels within the proposed Chick-fil-A’s 1.6 acre lot – at 3945 Crosshaven Drive and 3955 and 3959 Wall Street – were rezoned for B-2 commercial. These parcels have now been bundled with the lot’s additional two B-2 commercial parcels – at 3949 and 3953 Crosshaven Drive.
To address concerns voiced at the Jan. 10 Planning and Zoning meeting and a meeting between Chick-fil-A representatives and local residents, the property’s frontage buffer along Wall Street will be extended from an original 8 feet to almost 20 feet.
According to the landscape architect for the project, Steve Manley, the buffer will feature 10 understory trees and 20 shrubs per 100 feet, as well as a 6-foot privacy fence, in an effort to shield views of the property from neighboring residences on Wall Street.
Jim Mead of Sain Associates, project trafficking engineer for the franchise, assured that a left turn lane onto the property would be installed on Crosshaven, financed by Chick-fil-A.
According to Mayor Ashley Curry, who summarized resident concerns he received via email during the weeks prior to the meeting, Cahaba Heights residents have most notably been concerned about the size of the proposed franchise, its effect on Wall Street residents and the traffic the franchise will produce on Crosshaven.
A recurring theme as members of the public spoke was a request that more time be spent considering the rezoning.
“I went through this process in 2014… . We had three different planning and zoning meetings to work through the process with residents, so we could impact their lives less,” said Russell Pate, one of the principals with the neighboring Zaxby’s restaurant. “I was at the planning and zoning meeting (on Jan. 10) and I didn’t feel that it was adequate.”
The lot is the largest of any other Chick-fil-A location in the Greater Birmingham area – nearly double the size of the 280 location according to the comments of Jack Kubiszyn, an attorney representing the Westminster Homeowners Association.
“We are not here to be pesky naysayers,” said Joan Kendall, a Cahaba Heights homeowner.
Kendall added, “We do not object to Chick-fil-A building on Crosshaven, but it should not be the Taj Mahal of all Chick-fil-A’s in the metropolitan area.”
Jason Posiak, development manager with Chick-fil-A corporate, assured the council and audience that the restaurant would be roughly the same size as other locations. He added that the additional space would be used to accommodate more parking and a double drive-thru, which will allow more traffic to circulate on the property rather than on Crosshaven.
As the work begins in the near future, Chick-fil-A representatives assured the council that they will work to coordinate installing a left turn lane with the city’s roadwork to widen Crosshaven, which will begin this summer.
It was also stated that the restaurant would not open until Vestavia Hills’ work on Crosshaven is finished.
– By Emily Williams