The first Chick-fil-A location in the city of Brookfield set company records for sales. A second proposed restaurant near one of the busiest intersections in the region has led to mild concerns.
The city's plan commission got its first look at the newly announced location, at its meeting Monday, March 7.
City officials were presented with Chick-fil-A requests for some modifications to the property's zoning.
"The applicant's request is in association with the construction of the fast food restaurant drive-thru," Brookfield Planning Administrator Mike Theis said. "It's a use that is not permitted in the existing zoning."
Plan commission citizen member Tom Rave provided the prompt for the majority of discussion. Rave worried that the addition of Chick-fil-A could have negative effects on traffic on nearby North Moorland Road.
"When I am coming home from work and going north on Moorland Road, the southbound lanes of Moorland Road are often backed up a fairly long ways," Rave said. "It's wonderful to have a successful business that generates a lot of traffic, but potentially that will be a traffic problem that needs to be dealt with."
Chick-fil-A has conducted a traffic study that projects limited impact. Brookfield City Engineer Jeff Chase says that the city is still in the midst of looking it over.
"We're scheduling a public hearing, we're not acting on the project yet, so we are still very much in the process of reviewing that traffic assessment," Chase said.
Chase went on to predict that the assessment is correct and that the city need not worry.
"I expect that this proposal would not even meet the level of requiring a study. We generally require at least 100 new trips for a study. Banks are actually fairly high trip-generators," Chase said. "In terms of the external impacts in the greater transportation system around the mall, we've got much bigger fish to fry than Chick-fil-A."
Chase said that the city is currently working on studies at the mall in the bigger picture and potential improvements, but not related specifically to Chick-fil-A.
Last year, Brookfield Square added approximately 20,000 square feet of new retail and restaurant space near Sears. Preliminary plans have been discussed for another 50,000-square-foot addition to be finished by 2018.
Theis also acknowledged an ongoing concern about parking on the east side of Brookfield Square, but was not concerned about Chick-fil-A making the situation worse. Theis said that the new restaurant will result in a loss of 10 parking spaces, but that that doesn't take into account an increase of 23 spaces that the mall created by redesigning part of the lot immediately north of the property in question.
Rave also spoke on the parking situation at the mall, making note of a recent trip to one of Brookfield Square's new restaurants.
"One evening last week we went to Jason's Deli. We ended up parking on the west side of Sears," Rave said.
Alderman Gary Mahkorn and Brookfield Director of Community Development Dan Ertl, speaking on behalf of Brookfield Square General Manager Scott Oleson, took a different stance, noting that cross traffic at a mall like Brookfield Square is not always a bad thing.
"If Scott Oleson was here, he would say that mall owners like to encourage cross traffic through the mall from one side of the mall to the other," Ertl said.
"We all want the mall to be vibrant," Mahkorn said. "You want to see as much activity as there is. And it's good exercise. That's my two cents."
Commissioners approved the scheduling of a public hearing to address the topic.