Kettering neighbors say ‘no’ to Raising Cane’s chicken business

Neighbors turned out in force to voice their opposition to a proposed Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers near the Stroop Road and Far Hills Avenue intersection.

At issue is whether to rezone one residential lot and two office lots to commercial status, which developers feel is required to make the project work.

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The site would include the former OinkADoodleMoo restaurant at 3910 Far Hills Avenue, which shut down in August 2015 after failing to renegotiate its lease. The space previously housed a Chipotle restaurant and, decades earlier, the Kettering Village Inn.

City Planner David Roller explained that the Kettering Planning Commission hearing was the first step in a three-step process to review the proposed restaurant.

The first step is the application, which is reviewed by city staff and checked against zoning codes, Roller said. Staff then presents it to the planning commission.

“Then, city council is the third step. They have another pubic hearing just like this and then a couple of meetings later they vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the application as to whether they want to approve it or not,” Roller said. “They are the decision maker on the application.”

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Residents opposed to the plan explained that the proposed Raising Cane’s restaurant would cause traffic problems, litter issues and unwanted congestion in the neighborhood. There was not one resident in attendance that spoke in favor of having the land rezoned for the restaurant.

Brett Beckett, who lives on Carrlands Drive, which would be affected by the rezoning, put it bluntly at comments directed to the commission. “I hope you guys reject this,” he said.

Alvaro Gonzalez said he will “be back for the next round” and will continue to protest any possible rezoning at the location to allow for the restaurant to build in the neighborhood.

Lee Bacon said she loves Raising Cane’s chicken but does not want one right around the corner from where she lives.

“Given that the location is right in the city center, could the city of Kettering consider making this a green space and take this property off the owner’s hands for a good value?” she asked. “This would benefit all of the community in Kettering.”

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One of the property’s owners, Martin Mershad, and Drew Gatliff, pre-development manager for Raising Cane’s, both felt that there seemed to be miscommunication during the application process.

Commission members Carol Fischer and Don Shimmin asked them if they had met with residents during the application process, which started in April, and if all of the zoning criteria issues had been clearly communicated.

“No, we did not set-up a meeting with the neighbors outside of this meeting,” Gatliff said, despite noting that it was recommended by city staff to do so. “Most of our meetings (with city staff) focused on what we would need to do to our site plan if it (plan) would be rezoned.”

Mershad asked if there was an understanding of all of the issues involved with the rezoning.

“I think in all respect to them (Raising Cane’s), I don’t think they would have gone to all of the expense and done the soil studies if they didn’t have the impression that if they came up with a plan, then there would be a way to get the plan approved,” he said. “It wasn’t until September of this year that they (city staff) said in a letter that we aren’t going to support you.”

Mershad said the property has limitations because of is small size and the idea was to bring something that would be a good investment for the community. Gatliff agreed and said Raising Cane’s would be a good neighbor.

“We take a lot of pride in our facilities, and we do that for a number of reasons,” he said.

City staff is recommending to council that the rezoning request be denied because it has not met criteria in the code needed to have the property rezoned.

The first Dayton-area Raising Cane’s location opened last summer at 1136 Miamisburg-Centerville Road in Washington Twp., and the opening date for its second Dayton-area location at 4384 Indian Ripple Road across from The Greene Town Center in Beavercreek is Oct. 30. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based chain operates multiple restaurants in the Columbus and Cincinnati areas.

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