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Paul Manchester '64 defeats the Colonel

A previous news article reported that Paul Manchester was leading a campaign to keep Kentucky Fried Chicken out of Four Corners. Now, read about the outcome below.

KFC drops plan for restaurant

Citizens group led opposition

August 7, 2002
from The Gazette

by Greg Simmons
Staff Writer

When the Woodmoor-Pinecrest Citizens Association found out about a plan to bring a new KFC/Pizza Hut fast-food restaurant to their beloved Woodmoor Shopping Center, members vowed to fight it with their treasury account.

Now, after holding rallies, adopting a web site ― aptly addressed www.geocities.com/nochicken2002  ― and running petition drives and bake sales to raise nearly $12,000 for a legal fight, the neighborhood is resting a little easier.

On July 18 KFC's parent company, Tricon Global, took back its application for a zoning exception from the Montgomery County Board of Appeals, effectively ending any plans for the restaurant.

And while the lawyer handling the KFC proposals said other plans are likely to come forward for that piece of property, the neighborhood is happy.

"They're very pleased by it," said Paul Manchester, who helped lead the fight this year. "I've seen some e-mails and everybody's saying this is good news."

The shopping center's manager could not be reached for comment.

The restaurant would have gone in a small building on the shopping center grounds that is near several houses. Manchester said he thought that part of the shopping center is better suited for quiet offices like dentists or lawyers, rather than a late-night drive-through.

But aside from the complaints, the plan was running up against other obstacles that would have kept it from receiving a good recommendation from planning staff, said Joel Gallihue, a planner who studied the project for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The planners' recommendation weighs heavily with the Board of Appeals.

"I think KFC got the picture that this wasn't low-hanging fruit," Gallihue said.

KFC wanted a drive-through style restaurant, but the parking lot isn't well-suited for that type of use, Gallihue said. Also, the restaurant would have been located directly across the street from homes, in conflict with good planning practices.

However, the shopping center will likely see more changes in the future. There have been some renovations over the past 10 years, rerouting traffic. Last year, Starbucks opened a café there.

The shopping center is a prime spot at the intersection of Colesville Road and University Boulevard, and the surrounding neighborhood is stable and supportive, said Emily Vaias, a real estate attorney who represented KFC and has dealt with previous issues with the shopping center.

She said the reason shopping=center management wanted to put the restaurant there was to put more traffic in the back reaches of the center because there had been some safety concerns. "The way to fix that problem is to have people there," Vaias said.

KFC "thinks this is a great site, and I think the owner of the shopping center still thinks it was a great site," she said. "Hopefully the community can get behind some use at some point on this property."

And because the property managers are active in recruiting new uses, Gallihue said, the neighborhood would be well-served getting together directly with the owners of the shopping center to discuss further plans.

Manchester said neighbors are open to new proposals, but it's up to the shopping-center owners, "and we don't have any real say in all of this. ... It's their property."