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Chick-fil-A: a follow up

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Andrew Dittmar

Staff Writer

Salem residents may have to wait a bit longer before they can “Eat more chikin!”

On September 20th, Salem Planning Director Melinda Payne announced that a site plan had been approved for the construction of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in the parking lot of Salem’s K-Mart.

But according to an appeal to the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors by Stan Seymour, owner and operator of five Roanoke Valley Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits locations, the site plan for the proposed building violates Salem’s zoning ordinance in the required number of parking spaces, required setback distances, and required landscaping. This appeal was approved unanimously by the Salem City Council.

Seymour, who owns a Bojangles’ unit approximately 1000 feet away from the proposed building site for the new Chick-fil-A, claimed the zoning regulations are “ridiculous” for business. “No one should have to follow these laws,” Seymour said. But, he concluded, he had to for all five of his restaurants, and “they should follow the same rules.”

“It’ll hurt my business, so I’m going to slow it down if I can,” Seymour added.

The passage of the appeal forces Salem City Council to table the current plans for constructing the new Chick-Fil-A restaurant.

Seymour’s appeal was met unenthusiastically. “I hate to let someone abuse the process and delay it on purpose,” Salem City Mayor Randy Foley said.

Lisa Garst, a member of Salem’s city council, commented that all issues cited in the appeal are taken in consideration whenever site plans are taken into review.

Assistant City Manager Jay Taliaferro added that the same is true with Chick-fil-A, commenting, “I don’t know that we’ve ever seen anything like this in Salem before.”

Besides his role in the local Bojangles’ franchise, Seymour is currently a candidate for the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, citing being tired of special favors as one of his reasons in running for the office. But Seymour said he’s not concerned over negative publicity surrounding his appeal affecting his campaign.

Salem’s board of zoning appeals will next meet on October 20th, though Seymour’s appeal likely won’t be heard at that date. City Manager Kevin Boggess pointed out the likelihood Chick-fil-A lawyers will try to head off the appeal before it appears before the board.

Yet, mayor Foley commented, even if Chick-fil-A prevails before the zoning appeals board, Seymour may try appealing the case to circuit court, which could cause the restaurant’s construction to be delayed even further.