Foliage Concerns Dominate Site Review

The blueprint for the incoming Taco Bell restaurant at 310 E. Fairmount Ave. The restaurant will feature 52 seats. P-J photo by Eric Zavinski

LAKEWOOD — Members of the Village of Lakewood Planning Board want trees with their tacos.

William Dunagan, senior project manager for Karpinski Engineering, said he will pass on recommendations made Wednesday evening to plant eight medium-size trees in the upcoming Taco Bell restaurant property to be located at 310 E. Fairmount Ave. between Ruby Tuesday and Olive Garden.

Separating itself from KFC, the Taco Bell brand will soon have its own establishment in Lakewood. Chautauqua Mall owns the property that Karpinski Engineering plans on developing in the months to come. Final approval will be decided after a public hearing for the project will be hosted at the next village Board of Trustees meeting at 6:40 p.m. May 28.

Lakewood Building Inspector Jeffrey Swanson had recommended the Taco Bell property be considered for site plan review with the planning board even though the property will not be big enough to necessitate one by law. This echoes a similar situation with Metro Mattress, which had been slated to be developed in the vacant lot left by The Bagel Company on Fairmount Avenue.

Stormwater management recommendations had been contentious when Metro Mattress’s broker Todd Oudemool had made his presentation in August 2018.

While Metro Mattress was later approved for construction by the village’s Board of Trustees that month, Oudemool never responded to the village, and Metro Mattress never came to Lakewood. No reason was given, Swanson said.

John Jablonski, Lakewood resident and executive director of the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, was added to the planning board, and he gave the recommendation to Dunagan to have trees planted. In conjunction with the eight trees, planning board members also suggested a picnic area be built on the Taco Bell property.

“We don’t want an urban desert here,” Jablonski told Dunagan.

Dunagan suggested that shrubs similar to Olive Garden’s could be a compromise for the Taco Bell project. He clarified during the meeting that the planning board was only a recommending body.

“We will certainly take those recommendations into consideration,” Dunagan said.

Planning board member Richard Rose complimented Dunagan and Karpinski Engineering Civil Director Christopher Bednar for having “a very good set of plans — one of the best I’ve seen.”

The future Taco Bell location is set to be a 2,550 square feet building. It will have 36 parking spaces, with two spaces labeled as handicap spaces. The space will use LED dark sky lighting to keep light pollution to a minimum. It will also feature a masonry dumpster enclosure, extended sidewalk to Fairmount Avenue, a 6 feet 6 inches tall monument sign and possibly a bike rack. Inside, the restaurant will have 52 seats total. The incoming Taco Bell will be open from 7 a.m. to midnight.

Follow Eric Zavinski at twitter.com/EZavinski

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