The City of Charlotte Planning Commission voted 8-to-1 Tuesday, Sept. 5 not to recommend a zoning change that would allow for the expansion of Charlotte Dairy Queen.
Dairy Queen owner Brett Roberts is seeking to have property on 400 block of S. Cochran Avenue rezoned to B1 Business District, which would allow for the expansion of his existing business. He currently owns the Dairy Queen building and the vacant office space located directly south. His plan is to demolish both structures to make room for a larger building, which would accommodate the need for new ice cream equipment and indoor seating. The business existed in its current location before the adoption of the current master plan, and is therefore a legal non-conforming use. The renovation Roberts has planned, however, would require the property to be rezoned.
Lloyd Conway, chair of the Planning Commission said most of the planning commission members were uncomfortable with the idea of changing the city’s master plan and zoning map — which currently list Dairy Queen as residential property.
“The real purpose of zoning is to separate conflicting uses,” Conway said. “This, in our opinions, represents a conflicting use.”
Several neighboring property owners attended the Tuesday meeting to voice their concerns with Robert’s plan to increase the size of his current building.
“There’s a big difference between a neighborhood walk up ice cream stand, and a full-sized restaurant with a drive thru,” Conway said.
The Charlotte City Council, however, has the final say in whether the property will be rezoned. Council members will discuss the issue at their Monday, Sept. 11 meeting.
Owner Brett Roberts is heading into the meeting optimistic in spite of the lack of recommendation from the planning commission.
“If the city council doesn’t approve us, there are plenty of options we have,” Roberts said. “We are making some headway with the neighbors, and have offered to meet with them to discuss concerns. We’re trying to be the best neighbors we can.”
Roberts said Dairy Queen’s corporate offices have mandated the upgrade in ice cream equipment. He said the current building is already a tight squeeze for employees and the existing equipment. Adding the new equipment in the current building would be nearly impossible, Roberts said.
Conway anticipates a large number of neighboring property owners to attend the Monday meeting to voice their concerns with changing the zoning. Roberts said several community members have signed a petition, which is available at Dairy Queen to voice their support for its expansion.