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City Council approves controversial Chick-fil-A with drive-thru near Grier Heights

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City of Charlotte
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Council member Victoria Watlington voted in favor of rezoning to allow a Chick-fil-A with a drive-thru window on Wendover Road.

The Charlotte City Council voted 7-3 Monday to approve a rezoning to allow a Chick-fil-A with a drive-thru window on Wendover Road, near Grier Heights.

The city’s advisory zoning committee had earlier voted 5-1 not to approve the proposal because members said the drive-thru window is incompatible with the city’s 2040 Plan, which aims to create a more walkable city.

But council members said the Chick-fil-A — along with a Starbucks — would help boost the neighborhood. That would make it more likely a Food Lion grocery store would stay in the area.

Council member Victoria Watlington said keeping the grocery store is critical.

“We’ve got to be careful not to miss the forest for the trees,” Watlington said. “We’re talking about a food desert. I’m not willing to wager an ideal of not wanting to have a drive-thru with an actual grocery store. Because at the end of the day the community has been very clear. We need food.”

City Council members Braxton Winston, Julie Eiselt and Renee Johnson voted against the rezoning.

Winston said it was a bad decision to give low-income residents unhealthy food in exchange for keeping a grocery store.

City Council members also held a public hearing on the idea of creating new social districts, where people can drink alcoholic beverages outdoors within a certain area.

Cities like Kannapolis, Salisbury and Raleigh have already started social districts.

Nancy Pierce, who lives in Merry Oaks, supports having a district in nearby Plaza Midwood. But she said the city needs to require that to-go cups and food containers be recyclable or biodegradable.

“Neither Mecklenburg County nor any private entity is able to recycle this kind of cup and food containers are so dirty and mixed with incompatible plastic that they can’t be recycled anyway,” she said.

Nicole Peterson of NoDa agreed.

“The plastic cups are going to create a huge problem,” she said. “We do a monthly cleanup and we pick up a ton of trash, like 8 to 10 bags of trash, every month. And we know these plastic cups will just add to that trash.”

City Council is scheduled to take a formal vote on creating the districts on Aug. 22.

After that, council members would still need to vote on each district on a case-by-case basis.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.