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Charlotte leaders hear public opinion on future of Cotswold Chick-fil-A

Charlotte City Council heard public opinion regarding a request to demolish the Randolph Road Chick-fil-A and replace it with a new drive-thru-only building.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte City Council heard public opinion Monday on whether to approve a rezoning request for the Cotswold Chick-fil-A after months of traffic complaints in the area. 

City leaders have been reviewing a petition asking to demolish the existing Chick-fil-A establishment and replace it with a drive-thru-only location. Chick-fil-A traffic jams are nothing new, and at least one Charlotte store has transformed into drive-thru only as a result. 

The Chick-fil-A at Fort Mill's Baxter Village shopping center also announced plans to add a second drive-thru lane to speed up service and ease congestion.

"It's a nightmare," one man said of the Woodlawn Chick-fil-A in 2019. "For lack of a better word, it's a nightmare."

The Cotswold Chick-fil-A is located on Randolph Road, directly across the street from the Cotswold Shopping Center.

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The Chick-fil-A on Woodlawn Road was demolished and rebuilt in 2019. The Cotswold and South End locations also cause congestion in busy areas, particularly during breakfast and lunch hours. 

According to the petition presented to Charlotte City Council, the plan is inconsistent with the 2040 policy map, but its approval is recommended due to the building being an existing use. The report states the plan would improve the functionality of the facility, including pedestrian and access improvements in the immediate area. 

If approved, the Cotswold Chick-fil-A would have multiple drive-thru lanes that wrap around the building and separate it from the street. In theory, this will prevent Chick-fil-A traffic from spilling onto Randolph Road. It also includes a walk-up window for ordering. 

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During city council's public hearing, the owner of the Cotswold Chick-fil-A, Andre Harakas, said he wants to bring cars off of Randolph Road. He plans to do that by expanding the kitchen and drive-thru lanes, which he said will make the process more efficient.

However, his attorney John Carmichael admitted that the new design could attract more customers. 

"The number of cars that come there, or the business, would likely increase but the more efficient kitchen, the increased queuing capacity, nevertheless should help,” Carmichael said. 

Councilman Tariq Bokhari applauded Chick-fil-A for its plan, but Mayor Pro Tem Braxton Winston said he is not on board.

"I look at this whole sea of parking we have going on here," Winston said while pointing at a map of the Cotswold Shopping Center, "and I don't know why we wouldn’t try to make this a more pedestrian friendly place.”  

City council could vote on whether to approve the plan as early as Dec. 19.

Contact Julia Kauffman at jkauffman@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram  

WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com.

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