Thursday afternoon: The Popeye’s variances are on hold as no decision was made by the Board of Adjustments on Thursday. Board members voted 5-1 to push the decision to the next meeting. That would allow any changes to the proposal to be advertised to and reviewed by the community and then come up for a new vote. The issue might not be ready for review at the December meeting; it could instead by heard in January.
The project was presented and then Board Chair Eric McDowell asked for public comments. Among those doing so were Christa Jackson of St. Mary’s Catholic School who addressed projected traffic on East Seventh adjacent to the school; she also told of a time when her son — a student at the time — was struck while walking from the school to an aunt’s house in Old East Rome; local property owner Marti Walstad; City Commissioner Jamie Doss; Peg Arey representing the Between the Rivers community; and several others.
FROM THURSDAY: Some updates to our story about the planned Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen at Turner McCall and East Seventh Street.
Marti Walstad, who lives in Old East Rome, says residents are concerned about the setback requests as well as the main entrance being on East Seventh Avenue rather than Turner McCall. One side of East Seventh is St. Mary’s Catholic School until the turn on to Highlands; the other side is homes (one with business zoning) and Walstad’s property.
Walstad also said other preservation groups and interests around town are joining with Old East Rome in protest but that’s the next point. Some believe all city meetings involving in-person attendance have been canceled; this one has not. Also, she wonders about having the meeting during the current outbreak.
The Board of Adjustments meeting is set for 2:30 Thursday afternon in the Sam King Room at City Hall. Seating will be limited already because of social distancing. Plus there’s a full agenda in addition to the Popeye’s request.
Planning Director Artagus Newell says they’re using a hybrid meeting model in order to accommodate all those interested. Here’s how:
- 100 people will be able to watch via Zoom at this address: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83245408836?pwd=WFZUTXRGUWlZM3NEZTB3YU9CTmhLZz09. That is the safest way to watch it but Walstad is concerned some of those wishing to attend don’t know how to use Zoom.
- Newell expects a crowd but most will have to watch from the adjoining city auditorium, again because of distancing concerns. Scheduled speakers at the hearing will be escorted from the auditorium to the Sam King Room and then return when finished.
- All guests in the city auditorium — again, spaced accordingly because of contact concerns — will be able to watch a Zoom feed of the meeting on the auditorium’s screen.
Walstad asked about delaying the Popeye’s hearing, citing how the Popeye’s meeting already had been delayed once. Newell said that’s not possible because of the other issues on the agenda involving property owners who have waited for their hearing. Also, he adds, pandemic conditions a month from now could be even tougher than those sweeping the city right now.
Please see our article below for more on the variances sought for the restaurant.
- This application contains three parcels requesting multiple variances. The two parcels closest to Turner McCall contain the Long John Silver restaurant. The rear parcel borders Holmes and East Seventh Street. The front two parcels are zoned community commercial and the rear parcel is zoned neighborhood-office-commercial and will stay neighborhood-office-commercial in order to act as a buffer between the Old East Rome residential area and Turner McCall commercial corridor.
- The plan is for the existing restaurant to be razed and a new development will take its place. Due to the project containing three adjacent parcels with multiple zonings, variance will be required for any development on this property. Staff recommends approval as submitted.
The formal notice is as follows:
(From Hometown Headlines, Nov. 4) The folks behind the Funky Chicken LLC franchise system, already big fans of Northwest Georgia, are bringing another Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen to Rome, this one on Turner McCall at the site of the former Long John Silver’s/A & W Root Beer.
The Canton-based company confirmed rumors Tuesday evening that they’re opening an East Rome version of the popular West Rome restaurant. Their note to us:
“Yes, that is going to be a Popeye’s. We hope to be open middle of 2021.”
Popeye’s has been expanding seemingly by the month across Northwest Georgia, with the return of a West Rome store near Lowe’s to Cartersville, Rockmart and Cedartown. The Funky Chicken group has had a particular interest in this area.
Popeye’s is known for chicken, shrimp and sides. The West Rome store is open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. seven days a week.
Long John’s closed in April 2019.