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Lee Highway McDonald’s Backs Off Plan for Second Drive-Thru Lane

The McDonald’s at 4834 Lee Highway is backing off plans to reconfigure its drive-thru, at least for now.

The fast food restaurant withdrew a use permit application at the Arlington County Board over the weekend. That followed a drubbing at the Board’s April meeting, during which county officials blasted the plans, which included a second drive-thru lane and a new recirculating lane that would run between the restaurant and Lee Highway.

After deferring the restaurant’s application to this summer, then deferring it again, the Board accepted a request by McDonald’s to withdraw it entirely.

From a county staff report:

The applicant has requested withdrawal of the use permit request due to the physical constraints in accommodating on-site vehicle circulation, as well as the growing trend toward mobile orders and curbside pick-up. This application was initially heard at the April 2020 County Board meeting and was deferred twice to allow the applicant time to evaluate how it might address concerns regarding pedestrian safety and site circulation with the proposed design of the drive-thru; most recently from the July 2020 County Board meeting to the September 2020 County Board meeting. Therefore, staff recommends the County Board accept the applicant’s request to withdraw the subject use permit application.

In addition to the second ordering lane, intended to reduce incidence of drive-thru traffic backing up to Lee Highway, the plans called for the 1960s era building to be rebuilt as a modernized, two-story restaurant with around the same floor area but a smaller overall footprint.

The new restaurant would have included a kids play area, as the current one has, and was designed to be more efficient for preparing drive-thru and online orders. Other amenities would have included new landscaping and McDonald’s restoring a mural at the nearby Langston-Brown Community Center.

County staff and the John M. Langston Citizens Association opposed the plans, citing concerns about pedestrian safety for those needing to cross the new recirculation lane to access the restaurant, as well as potential backups caused by the lane being blocked by those waiting for the drive-thru.

Despite agreeing to some changes, McDonald’s and its land use attorney continued to argue for the merits of its plan during the April meeting. ARLnow has asked about whether a new plan is in the works, but has yet to hear back.

Photo (1) via Google Maps

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