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Welcome to Woodward, May I Take Your Order

Refresher course in Urban Planning 101

The Lakewood Planning Commission's meeting on October 19 wasn’t a win, but it wasn’t a slaughter either.  The Commission deferred its vote until the next meeting in November which give residents time to beef up their arsenal.  They know that if they walk away now, if they go willingly, loss of any concessions is a certainty. 

Most residents are under no illusion that the Detroit Theatre will be saved.  They know that corporate giant McDonald’s is setting up shop on the corner of Woodward and Detroit.  But their concerns and suggestions go unheard despite the ostensibly interested and concerned faces of the Summers administration.  The residents are frustrated at their lack of input and insulted by the information fed to them, most recently the GPD Traffic Impact Study performed by GPD Group and financed by McDonald’s Corporation.

Robert P. Kelly, PE, an engineer not affiliated with the City or McDonald’s, reviewed the GPD study and came to the following conclusions as to why the study is not an accurate or complete assessment of future conditions:

1.    The study assumes that 70% of the traffic from McDonald's is destined to the drive-through.  No engineering data or analysis was provided to justify this.  A similar size development should have been counted and data provided in the report.

2.   The driveway volumes exiting and entering the site shown in the figures for the build condition are lower than the calculated volumes from the trip generation. 

3.   The Detroit Avenue corridor has a high incidence of pedestrian activity as evidenced by the traffic counts in the appendices.  The capacity analyses for the unsignalized intersections did not account for this volume.

4.  The study shows a marginally acceptable level of service for the northbound direction at Detroit.  However, this was accomplished by averaging the right and left turn movements.  The left turn movement has a much higher average delay than the right turn movement due to the need for a larger gap in the traffic stream.  For the opening year of 2012 it is rated at a failing level of "E".  [Rated C according to the study.]  In the 20 year analysis, the LOS falls to an F.  Since a traffic signal is not warranted, there will be no relief for those motorists on Woodland Avenue. To improve the motorist and pedestrian safety and reduced congestion a traffic signal should be installed. 

The residents have an expert report, evidence based on other projects, incidental evidence based on peoples’ experiences in similar situations and common sense stating that the McDonald’s project is fraught with huge problems as it stands.  Yet the Planning Commission, if they had their way, would proceed full speed.  Why no change in the plans when other logical and safer options are available?  Maybe somewhere lies a certain incentive. 

If changes are not made to the current plan, the legacy of Mayor Summers’ administration will be a dirty behemoth McDonald’s built in an inappropriate location which will be the cause of disgruntled residents, pedestrians and motorists, disturbances, accidents and possibly loss of life.  Not just now but for 20+ years into the future, without recourse.  Also for the books will be the Planning Commission’s reliance on, in part, a slanted traffic study.  Is this how the Summers administration wants to be remembered?  I wouldn’t want my name on this hot mess.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Barb October 24, 2011 at 05:48 PM
Keep Lakewood Local is an enviable idea, but, as Lakewood residents, are you prepared to pay higher taxes to keep corporate giants out of the area? Many times - especially in an economy that has witnessed plummeting tax revenues - cash-strapped cities have to err on the side of generating enough money to provide the services citizens demand. Would the residents of Woodward and surrounding streets be willing to pay for services like trash collection? Maybe. Would the rest of Lakewood's citizens be willing to pay for trash collection to keep McDonald's away from Woodward Ave? Probably not. Honestly, 20 years down the road, no one will remember Mayor Summers, let alone his decisions about McDonald's. Rather than trying to keep McDonald's from building in your area (which is likely a lost cause), you might want to focus on working WITH the city and with McDonald's to ensure the project proceeds as safely as possible (i.e., the traffic signal). The area around Burger King is significantly congested, but that franchise continues to thrive. McDonald's is probably looking to capitalize on hungry drivers the same way that Taco Bell, Burger King, Five Guys, etc. have. The Sloan Ave location just doesn't give them the exposure they need to profit in Lakewood.
Joseph Felix October 24, 2011 at 07:10 PM
@ Barb, residents have been attempting to work "WITH the city" as you suggest for months now. As Ms. Donovan points out, the city is not working with the residents. Allowing McDonald's to put 3 points of ingress / egress onto Woodward Ave. is inexcusable, as is the city's refusal to install a traffic light at the corner of Woodward and Detroit. And a McDonald's is not going to make the difference between anyone in Lakewood having to pay for their trash removal or not. A great number of businesses could / would have done very well in that location. It's a shame that the owner of the Detroit Theater allowed his property to deteriorate to the point that he did and is now being rewarded for it with a nice fat check from McDonald's. I don't think Ms. Donovan (or any of the Woodward residents I've talked to) are trying to say Lakewood should only allow local businesses. But allowing unlimited drive-thru fast food establishments along Detroit is a very, very bad idea. The current zoning laws must be changed.
Barb October 24, 2011 at 07:27 PM
My point Joseph - which appears to have escaped you - is that the city, and the Detroit Theater owner - is looking at this as a financial decision. And, yes, the residents of the area are indeed looking to "keep Lakewood local." Please note the following email content forwarded to me by a local resident looking to drum up support for a planned protest.... Hello Woodwardites - I still don't believe the city hears our concerns or is taking them seriously in regards to the theater site. I would like to get an idea of how many would be able to show (and willing) if we held a protest over the course of several days. I'm thinking of between 5 and 6 pm (peak hr), all ages, signs that talk to the following ideas (or whatever you see fit): Not my image/ vision of Lakewood Keep Lakewood local Protect children (orient around traffic) Protect neighborhoods (traffic, noise, litter) So, Joseph, as you can clearly see, for many residents, this issue comes down to a "vision of Lakewood" and "keeping Lakewood local," not just safety. Protests are great - I've participated in a few myself - but it's important to realize when one is fighting a losing battle.
Tate Davidson October 24, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Wow Barb - Feel free to throw in the towel -- that's fine - as long as it is for yourself only. But as Joseph said, the author of this article (and many other of the residents of Woodward and nearby streets) have attended several meetings WITH the city regarding this topic. It is quite obvious that the city sees value in catering to corporate representatives - but also letting the public have their say to some degree as well which is how we've managed to help cause a delay in the approval of the project by the planning commission. But there is such an attitude of "don't get in the way of job / tax revenue creators" now it is scary. If the people of Lakewood don't stand up for their beliefs, no one will. Lakewood is special - and many residents know that. Allowing outside interests to dictate what Lakewood "should" be is foolish. The point of a public protest is to bring attention to the topic. Woodward is half a mile long and is a semi-direct rout to and from the highway. What this means is that cars (and the drivers in them) cut through and travel at excessive speeds on a regular basis. So I don't see adding to this traffic as a financial issue. I see it as a safety issue. Really, there are so many ways this upsets people, it is hard for me personally to choose which to talk about.
Barb October 24, 2011 at 09:02 PM
Mr. Davidson. I have no towel to throw. I'm not involved in the protests, nor do I care to be. I, personally, welcome a McDonald's that is more centralized in Lakewood - although a light at an intersection that has been a pain in the butt for a long time would be nice. Local jobs are always welcome. I'm aware of the meetings. I'm aware of the traffic studies and the fact that they are skewed. I'm also aware of the reason for public protests - although I certainly do thank you for defining such for those who may not be as informed. It's interesting that you mention excessive speeds - have you arranged a protest about that? I haven't seen indication of such. I find it intersting how people talk the "local" talk but don't walk the "local" walk. I'll bet most of the residents of Woodward shop at Walmart/Target/Giant Eagle. Keeping Lakewood local, as noted in the email I was forwarded, is part of the issue behind the McD's protests - maybe not for you, maybe not for Cat, and maybe not for Joe, but it is for organizer of the protest. I wonder if the author patronizes ONLY Lakewood's lcoal establishments. My guess is no. I am simply voicing an opinion - one with which you clearly disagree... and that's ok. I just don't think you have the support you need, because I don't believe this issue is as important to most of the residents of Woodward Ave as it is to you and a select few.
Tate Davidson October 24, 2011 at 09:43 PM
@Barb: Much of what you are getting at is hearsay and assumptions on your part (and "guess[ing]") as you say yourself. Perhaps if you want a centralized McDonalds, you should state why that makes Lakewood better rather than putting forth assumptions about people that you don't know. I think it is refreshing that some residents choose not to let things just happen to them. And no there haven't been public protests about the traffic that I know about. But we have talked to out representatives on several occasions and the city regularly has police speed traps and automated signs to try to reduce the speed. Of course, that isn't enough to have long-term impact. And now that a "restaurant" with a double drive-thru is moving in, we are literally concerned for the lives of our children even more than we were before.
Joseph Felix October 25, 2011 at 12:00 AM
This is not an issue that is only important to a "select few." And those who are not concerned should be. Most residential streets in Lakewood (with the notable exception of those who can afford to live along the lake) dead end at either Madison or Detroit. This could happen to any of us unless the current zoning laws are amended.
Barb October 25, 2011 at 04:17 AM
Tate. To assert that I am conjecturing would be a mistake on your part. I believe that "observations" would be a better word. No assumptions, no guessing, and certainly no hearsay. You are "literally concerned for the lives" of your children? That's interesting. As a Lakewood parent, I have found that any real threat to my childrens' lives certainly did not come as a result of a drive thru or traffic. I have stated before that "keeping Lakewood local" has been listed as an issue above safety concerns. And, Joe, it certainly is an issue for the "select few." Those I have spoken to welcome the new McDonald's. There appears to be very few of the 120 houses on Woodward interested in the protest. Amending the zoning laws is not going to happen in time to prevent the McDonald's from being built. And, I'll bet that the "select few" won't follow through after that. Had you taken an interest in zoning laws back when others were being negatively affected by corprate expansion, the issue would be a moot point. Had McD's elected to build somewhere else, the select few of Woodward would not be organizing a protest, but merely issuing a "tsk, tsk" as they went about their day. But, protests do tend to be a "put it in someone else's backyard" endeavor. I'll lay odds the issue will be dropped, albeit grudgingly, once the McD's enters the 'hood. But, feel free to prove me... and McD's, a corporation which I am sure has dealt with this before... wrong.
Tate Davidson October 25, 2011 at 02:30 PM
"To assert that I am conjecturing would be a mistake on your part" "I'll BET most of the residents of Woodward shop at Walmart …" "I wonder if the author patronizes ONLY Lakewood's lcoal establishments. My GUESS is no" Pretty much contradicted yourself there. "You are "literally concerned for the lives" of your children? That's interesting. As a Lakewood parent, I have found that any real threat to my childrens' lives certainly did not come as a result of a drive thru or traffic." Is this really that hard to believe? A moving car will kill a child. More cars at fast speeds increases the likelihood that something could happen. My kids happen to be very good friends with the neighbors across the street. It's not a stretch to think that maybe that could be dangerous. I find it insulting that you have trouble believing that. Obviously you are in favor of this McDonald's for some reason and you have a right to be that way. Maybe you work there or eat there all the time or own stock in it I really don't care. Kind of silly that you are so upset that people have multiple reasons for not wanting a McDonald's here. Just because it is dangerous AND it isn't a local business doesn't mean people are disingenuous - if anything, it adds to the reason why people should really think about this …
Alex Vandehoff October 25, 2011 at 03:05 PM
McDonald's is a local business....in Oak Brook, Illinois. There's a careful balance between attracting business investment and rolling over for a corporation. I am concerned about the traffic impact and lack of stoplight. Lakewood is an 'active traffic' city when you consider all the street parking, businesses on main streets, etc. Drivers need to be cautious of all pedestrians, and all pedestrians need to be cautious of vehicles. If your kid can't cross the street on their own, then don't let them sprint back and forth in front of a drive-through.
Cat Donovan October 25, 2011 at 05:44 PM
The problems cannot be dealt with individually. It's not just about children crossing the street. It is a multilayered problem: traffic, pedestrians, residents in close proximity to the site, town integrity, architecture, lighting, noise, litter, loitering, City officials, safety, zoning laws and likely others. People eager for McDonald's at the proposed site are either young, shortsighted or uninformed. Too bad we will be the ones to say I told you so.
Tate Davidson October 25, 2011 at 09:01 PM
Perhaps this awesome McDonald's commercial is a metaphor for this debate … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLyh32axL0o

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