Planned McDonald’s revs up traffic, other concerns

A new McDonald’s location in Oviedo may be on its way, despite public concerns about its potential impact to the community.

While Oviedo’s Development Services said they have not received any site plans yet, architectural designs have been submitted for the development, which would be built on the currently vacant lot at East Chapman Road and Alafaya Trail, and would be the third McDonald’s in the Oviedo city limits.

News of the yet-to-be-built drive-thru restaurant led to a flurry of discussion on Oviedo Mayor Megan Sladek’s Facebook page after she posted about it on Feb. 1, generating 280 comments, the most – by far – for any of her posts in 2023. Her posts this year average just more than 13 comments each.

The discussion was wide-ranging and passionate.

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About landscaping: “Write McDonald’s and ask them to use Florida Native [sic] plants in their landscape design for this new location,” Jenny Jeannette Welch wrote.

About concerns of adding another McDonald’s: “Not happy about this. We don’t need any more fast food places that bring no nutritional value and be [within] walking distance from the elementary school,” Konstantin Bogatyrev wrote.

About excitement for another McDonald’s: “Yay I actually love McDonalds lol. What’s more American than a Big Mac lol,” Ryan Pearson wrote.

However, the biggest talking point that came up was about traffic at the intersection.

“I travel that [intersection] daily home from work,” said Kelly Martin, who lives in Alafaya Woods. “The volume is quite high.”

The lot, which previously was home to a gas station, was originally zoned for a drive-thru fast-food restaurant in the 1980s, and is only now being utilized for the McDonald’s. Its proximity to Evans Elementary School, 100 East Chapman Road, has many worried about the additional congestion it can cause.

The school’s car line at pickup and drop-off often goes into the road and can cause major backup at the intersection. An added drive-thru has residents worried it will become even worse.

“You can’t have your drive-thru line back into the road. That’s not OK,” Sladek said. “The car line of the local schools are not supposed to back into the road, but every morning what do we see? The car line for Evans Elementary is sitting at that light, waiting to turn left, and nobody can turn left because the car line hasn’t moved out of the way. So I see why people are concerned.”

Area being studied under mobility plan

While traffic engineer data shows that adding a fast food drive-thru produces 12.4% less traffic than a gas station with a convenience store would, the issues with this particular intersection led the City Council to add it to the still-in-development 2045 mobility plan.

“[The area] clearly seems like it has some issues,” Oviedo City Councilwoman Natalie Teuchert said. “Now, instead of just saying, ‘Hey, we can’t do anything about it,’ I took it a step further and said, ‘What can we do?’ And it’s [to] try to improve that area.

“If we can add a turn lane, if we can add another lane there, widen the area, [to] kind of ease some of the traffic that’s caused by the school,” she said. “So when the two developments that come in on that corner [do] come in, we have some more capacity to alleviate some of the root of the problem here.”

Being included in the mobility plan will allow for direct funding as well as studies to be done for improving the flow of traffic due to the school car line, the potential McDonald’s and any other future developments around the intersection.

The table below is a general comparison of the trips generated by two uses: a drive-through restaurant and a convenience store. It was created by the City of Oviedo, based on information from an Institute of Transportation Engineers manual. The comparison does not relate specifically to the McDonald’s site.

The city has stressed that, while Development Services met with McDonald’s recently, plans are in the very early stages, so there could be changes as the process goes on.

“There’s nothing set in stone,” Teuchert said. “I’m pretty sure everybody on [the City] Council is getting a lot of emails, and we’re like, there’s not much we can do about it [at the moment].”

City doesn’t control what businesses can open

While traffic in the area has been the biggest issue brought up by the community, the demand for an additional McDonald’s is not far behind.

“There’s already so many of them in the area,” Martin said. “[I would hope for] maybe a smaller mom-and-pop restaurant. Something local and more unique that people wouldn’t be going in and out of constantly and quickly.”

Since the lot is already zoned for a fast food drive-thru, the city is not able to dictate what type of restaurant is added, and with the potential addition, McDonald’s locations would constitute nearly 3% of the restaurants in the city limits, Sladek said

“I’ve [received] a lot of emails about the healthiness of the food and the quality of the food that people eat there,” Teuchert said. “City Council does not have any control over that. We don’t have control over what businesses come into different zones where they are allowed.”

The desire for a smaller, local eatery was a hot topic in the comments on Sladek’s post, and one she was quick to address.

“Nobody stopped anybody from opening anything there. We cannot regulate mom-and-pop shops into existence,” Sladek said. “You can’t make people build for things you want. You have to frequent them and show mom-and-pop shops that you’ll shop there and not at McDonald’s. 

“But we are a McDonald’s loving town, clearly, or else they wouldn’t have decided to build another one in Oviedo.”

This issue was originally brought up at the end of the Feb. 20 City Council meeting. You can watch that meeting here:

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