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Golden arches makeover presents zoning questions in New Hope


Attorney Raymond Went presentation a plan for a major remodel of McDonald’s at 324 West Bridge St. at the Jan. 15 New Hope Borough Council meeting.

The changes are part of a national remodel plan by the restaurant corporation that would include improvements to board and wall signage, ADA access compliance and removal of the iconic mansard roof, ultimately giving it a sleeker and “less tacky” appearance.

Proposed signage would include two arches on different walls. The drive-through fluorescent-lit menu board will be replaced with a smaller digital LED screen. The existing menu board is 42 square feet.

The new menu board would be only 20 square feet with a 10-square-foot “pre-browse” board and an ordering board under a canopy.

The menu board would automatically dim based upon ambient light intensity and be shut off from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m seven nights a week.

Existing brick would remain and be augmented with stucco for the new elements of the structure, and no site lighting would be incorporated in the plans. Arch size would not increase.

The project comes after the McDonald’s Corporation Associate Board ordered all remodel projects not currently “in the works” to stop pending further negotiations over a remodel strategy, according to Restaurant Business in a Jan. 8, 2019 article.

In other business, attorney Paul Cohen represented the owners of a residential property at 107 Pinewood Circle to request variances for the replacement of a deck and addition of a ground-level single-story sunroom to the back of the kitchen, increasing the building coverage by just over one percent. The rear yard setback would be decreased similarly.

Both remodeling projects will advance to the zoning hearing board.

The borough council elected Connie Gering as council president at its reorganization meeting.

Dan Dougherty was elected vice president and Tina Leufer Rettig was elected president pro-tem. All elections were unanimous.

A resolution redesignating Edward Duffy as chair for the vacancy board for 2019 was approved unanimously. The vacancy board chair convenes with the remaining council to temporarily fill council vacancies that exceed 30 days.

Borough manager EJ Lee said a third of Main Street pedestrian improvement project has been completed, including ADA accessible ramps and crosswalks. Lee said that everything removed will be replaced in kind, including the brick section of sidewalk. The change order, which includes a not-to-exceed clause to allow for pedestrian access during construction, is for $13,414.

Board member Dougherty reported that borough credit card fees were higher due to increased credit card revenue and that although “it is not to a degree of a problem we thought it was,” it was being looked at.

He also mentioned that borough real estate taxes were not increased for 2019. “A lot of people are raising taxes all the time,” Dougherty said, referring to neighboring boroughs. He added that less than 10 percent of anyone’s taxes are from real estate, emphasizing that “we do a lot with the small fraction of the overall tax revenue.”

Walsh stated that second zoning hearing board meetings will be convened for both The Mansion Inn at 9 South Main St. and The River Cat Café at 142 South Main St., both of which had their first hearing board meetings on Jan. 3 and 10 respectively. The Mansion Inn will face a continuance hearing on March 21 and the River Cat Café on March 14.

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