A majority of Burlington’s city council has signed off on a rezoning request that was initially meant to clear the way for a second location of Zack’s Hot Dogs to be set up along South Church Street.
On Tuesday, the council voted 4-to-1 in favor of this request, which Jack Burton, the new owner of Zack’s, had filed earlier this year in order to establish a restaurant with a drive-thru at 3158 South Church Street. This property was formerly home to Alamance National Bank, and later to Select Bank & Trust, and it still boasts a vacant bank building from its past life as a financial institution.
In addition to a prospective eatery, Burton’s “limited use” rezoning request would also allow this 1.1-acre parcel to be used for a daycare, a medical office, a financial services business, or some other retail establishment. These fall-back options may actually prove more crucial than previously anticipated.
According to Burton, the property at 3158 South Church Street is no longer in the running as a future location for Zack’s. In fact, Burton has told The Alamance News that he has since settled on two other sites to replicate the iconic downtown Burlington eatery.
“The Select Bank is no longer going to be Zack’s,” he elaborated in an interview Wednesday. “We’re doing one at the mall and another at the old Steak and Shake [at 3120 Garden Road], and they should both be open in six months or so.”
Burton added that he may have an interested buyer for the former Select Bank building, which he originally purchased in April of this year.
Burton had previously told The Alamance News that he had plans to set up additional locations of Zack’s when he bought the business from its third generation owner this spring.
Prior to the council’s decision on Burton’s rezoning request, its members heard from two neighbors who voiced some misgivings about Burton’s original plans for the property.
John Wadiak of Meadowood Drive informed the council that Tuesday night’s hearing was the fourth or fifth time that he and his neighbors have had to contend with a commercial development across from their neighborhood’s entrance. Wadiak went on to complain about the traffic that he expects a new restaurant to drop on the area.
Wadiak’s next-door neighbor Imran Quazi, likewise, confronted the council about the eatery’s potential traffic.
“I would also like to bring to your attention that this is [at the entrance to] our neighborhood [across the street],” he added, “and we have kids around in the area.”
The concerns that Quazi and Wadiak shared seemed to resonate with councilman Ronnie Wall, who went on to cast the lone vote against the rezoning request. Both Wall and mayor Jim Butler also live on Meadowood Drive, albeit farther from the intersection with Church Street where Quazi and Wadiak reside.
“I can’t imagine that a restaurant with a drive-thru would be appropriate for that property, especially with that amount of traffic.”
– councilman ronnie wall who cast the lone vote against the rezoning
“I can’t imagine that a restaurant with a drive-thru would be appropriate for that property,” Wall declared before Tuesday’s vote, “especially with that amount of traffic.”
Although other members of the council also expressed some traffic-related concerns, their doubts were eventually allayed by the city’s technical review process, which will be a prerequisite for whatever project Burton develops.
Burlington’s mayor pro tem Harold Owen argued that this process will appropriately manage the traffic which a drive-thru restaurant is likely to bring.
“We’ve learned that popularity creates some issues,” he added. “But I have faith in the technical review staff that they will make a decision [with public safety in mind].”
“I know that this area was designated [for office and institutional use] for a reason,” added councilmember Kathy Hykes, “and that was to protect the neighborhood. But the world changes. It was 20 years ago that it was designated O&I. And it’s no good for anybody to have buildings sitting empty.”