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Proposed Subway Restaurant Heads to Commission

Despite 7-week delay after neighbors requested traffic data on similar-sized Subway restaurants, franchisee's application gets its hearing Monday night. Laurelwood condo proposal also on the docket.

Proposed Subway Restaurant Heads to Commission Proposed Subway Restaurant Heads to Commission

Parkwood neighborhood residents might be out in force at on Monday night.

A  goes before the Planning Commission at 7 p.m. Monday, as does a three-condo development proposed nearly a year ago for a lot on Laurelwood Avenue.

Parkwood residents have made up the majority of the vocal opposition to both projects. In advance of the commission's hearing on Subway in January, neighbors predicted that it would generate an increase in car traffic to the area. That caused the city to go to ask Subway franchisee Akki Patel to produce the number of daily customers for similar Subway restaurants - relatively small in size (930 square feet) and in a downtown.

Patel hired a consultant to collect traffic data from a Subway in downtown Petaluma for comparison, finding that only 30 percent of that Subway's patrons arrived by car. Patel told the city that he expected to draw approximately 100 customers per day, most of whom would arrive on foot from the surrounding area.

Given that data and the fact that Subway meets the city's zoning regulations, city staff recommended the commission approve the project.

Patel, who has opened a number of Subway franchises in the North Bay and the Bay Area, signed a lease with building owner Lynn Spaulding in December to move into the space that was occupied for 43 years by . Patel is looking to open a Subway in the 930-square-foot space, which would be the second Subway in the area along with the .

The transition from one food service business to another in a space smaller than 1,500 square feet normally wouldn't require the need for a Conditional Use Permit and a public hearing. But planning department officials have said that because so many of the city's regulations have changed over the past 43 years, Patel and Subway must go through the public hearing process.

The application is fairly straightforward. No additional parking is required. Subway seeks to be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Subway’s signage would be regulated by the city’s sign ordinance, requiring it to both conform to the natural wood aesthetics of the other signs in the center and be no more than 31 feet long, according to Zanarini. (See proposed sign design, at right)

Patel said the restaurant would accommodate approximately 10 tables and wouldn’t require major changes to the space itself other than significant updates from a commercial space that had more than four decades under its belt.

But some neighbors remain opposed to the Subway, saying that the presence of a chain restaurant would "violate the character and values of our downtown," according to Monte Vista Ave. residents Russell Lemle and Victoria Beckner. 

Some residents couched their opposition for its potential impact on nearby independent businesses like and .

“To have a Subway sandwich store across the street (from Beth’s) is a blasphemy,” wrote Summite Ave. resident Cindy Polite Kamm. “I urge you not to grant them a permit to be downtown. It will do nothing but degrade the great trend we have going to support small, local, quality businesses on out town.”

The application serves as a litmus test for recent City Hall discussions about how chain businesses fit into the ongoing overhaul of the city’s zoning ordinances. In a  that drew more than 140 votes, Subway's application received 65 percent support. 

The 411: The Mill Valley Planning Commission considers a proposed Subway restaurant at 29 Miller Ave. and a proposed three-condo development at 30 Laurelwood. Meeting is at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 27 at City Hall, 26 Corte Madera Avenue.

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