September 13, 2002

The county Department of Land Use has rejected McDonald's Corp.'s plans to replace its restaurant at Philadelphia Pike and Harvey Road and told the company to negotiate its design with community representatives if it wants to project to proceed.

George Lossé, president of the Claymont Community Coalition, announced the decision on Sept., 12 at a meeting of the Council of Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred.

He said his organization "will be glad to work with them."

He has maintained that Claymont does not want to lose McDonald's as a business but that the coalition is opposed to the company's plan to put up a building which resembles the kind it had when it began national franchising in the 1950s. Prominent in that design are two large 'golden arches' protruding above the one-story structure.

McDonald's had brought the application to replace the existing building, which dates to 1979, under the county's new redevelopment ordinance. It had proposed several improvements in the site, which does not confirm to present land-use standards, to bring it into closer compliance. They include moving the building closer to Philadelphia Pike, realigning parking around it and extensive landscaping.

At a coalition meeting last month, most of the changes were accepted. But the design remained a sticking point and, at a hearing before the county Planning Board. McDonald's refused to back off from its position claiming that it was an important element in marketing strategy.

Land Use spokesman Vince Kowal confirmed that the decision was conveyed orally on Sept. 12 to McDonald's architect. That will be followed, he said, by a letter during the week of Sept. 23, presumably elaborating on reasons for the decision.

Kowal had said earlier that the department did not intend to issue public notices of its redevelopment decisions, despite widespread public interest in some of them. They are considered minor subdivision applications which generally receive routine in-house treatment.

Daniel Bockover, president of the Brandywine Council, said that the decision allays some fears in the civic community that the redevelopment ordinance would fall short of a pre-passage promise that community organizations would play a pivotal role in its application.

Claymonters had claimed that McDonald's did not approach them in a collaborative sense but presented its plan as a final proposal the first time it appeared in public.

© 2002. All rights reserved.

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