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Chicken chain ruffles residents' feathers

October 12, 2005|By By Mark R. Madler

Debate continues over proposed restaurant for Magnolia Boulevard property as neighbors site traffic concerns.DOWNTOWN BURBANK -- A new restaurant beats a gun shop when it comes to what kind of business should be housed in a Magnolia Boulevard property, the property's owner said Tuesday, appealing to the City Council to allow a California Chicken Café to open.

But by press time, the council had not made a decision, instead listening to owners and residents in the area, many who are opposed to the project because of lack of parking. They argue that there were enough restaurants already on that stretch of Magnolia Boulevard.

At stake on Tuesday was a reversal of a Planning Board decision, recommending approval of the restaurant.

But Bill Belshay, who owns the building with his wife, Leni, said he had turned down other possible tenants because the city preferred a restaurant at that site.

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"They are the best bet for the property," Bill Belshay said. "I wonder how many other restaurants, if this is turned down, will be interested in that location, or Magnolia Park in general."

Belshay said a deli backed out, that he turned down a gun shop, and expressions of interest from a post-production company and a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center never panned out.

Albert Epstein, owner of storefront property on Magnolia, opposed the restaurant.

"If this tenant moves in there and starts up business, and two years later causes irreparable harm to the neighborhood, the damage will have been done regardless of whether there are restrictions from the Planning Board," Epstein said.

California Chicken Café Owner Andre de Montesquiou was seeking a conditional-use permit to open the 4,700-square-foot restaurant at 2921 Magnolia Blvd.

He spent about 18 months looking for a site in the city for a new restaurant and liked Magnolia Boulevard because it was a good location with a residential base, de Montesquiou said.

If there is any effect on residential streets from his business it would be for a 60- to 90-minute period during the lunch rush, de Montesquiou said, and there is the option of creating permit parking or one-hour parking if problems persisted.

"There are parking scenarios that could be implemented to protect their rights," de Montesquiou said.

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