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Community News Focus

NEWPORT BEACH : Panel OKs Disputed Fast Food Location

November 12, 1994|HOLLY J. WAGNER

The Planning Commission gave approval Thursday to a Taco Bell franchise across Pacific Coast Highway from the Balboa Bay Club--but its future appeared far from assured.

Residents of the bluff above the proposed site, primarily on Kings Road, had opposed the project for months and some vowed to appeal the decision to the City Council.

Most residents initially opposed the project because the restaurant would be open 24 hours a day. Even the commission's decision to limit operating hours from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. did not appear to satisfy them.

"The highest point to us as residents and to me personally would be crime and security," said John Sturgess, who lives on Cliff Drive above the restaurant site.

Other complaints cited potential noise, light and smells. Residents complained that on some nights, they can hear customers making orders at a McDonald's a half-mile away on Pacific Coast Highway.

The commission had put approval on hold for a month to find out if there are other restaurants operated 24 hours in the city and whether they generate problems.

A report from the Police Department recommended tighter limits on the hours and that the chain provide a uniformed security guard from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., if the 24-hour operations were allowed.

The commission dropped the security guard provision but ordered that the dining areas and parking lot be closed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., so the restaurant will only offer drive-through service from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

The commission voted 4 to 1 to approve the plan. Because of potential conflicts of interest, commission Chairwoman Norma Glover and Commissioner Tod Ridgeway did not take part in the discussion or vote. Commissioner Anne Gifford voted against the restaurant.

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