SUGAR HILL — Perhaps no restaurant symbol is more recognized than McDonald’s golden arches.
That’s what Sugar Hill’s City Council continued to grapple with at its work session Monday night as it contemplated whether to allow the fast-food giant variances to the city’s sign regulations and architectural design standards.
McDonald’s wishes to relocate from its outparcel in front of Publix supermarket at Ga. Highway 20 and Suwanee Dam Road to a comparable outparcel in front of the recently opened Kroger just a few hundred yards across Suwanee Dam. Challenge is, the contemporary building McDonald’s is proposing conflicts with the city’s sign regulations and architectural standards.
At issue at last month’s work session was the flat roof of the chain’s modernized locations and its conflict with ordinances requiring gabled roofs on buildings of McDonald’s size. Also at issue was McDonald’s modern, yellow swoosh and whether it was considered signage and could extend above the roof line, which also is prohibited. Still other issues were the total square footage of signs McDonald’s wants, and whether the swoosh was a sign or simply a design element, as McDonald’s considers it to be.
Sugar Hill allows 80 square feet of ground signage for buildings of McDonald’s type; McDonald’s is requesting 345 for a frontage sign on Ga. Highway 20 and menu boards at its dual drive thru. The city allows a total of 100 square feet of signs on all sides of a building; McDonald’s is requesting 377.
McDonald’s agreed to heighten the roof two feet so no part of its long, low-arching swoosh will extend above the roof line.
McDonald’s presented its perceived importance of signs in a letter last month from Greg Chapman, an area construction manager for McDonald’s. The letter said the corporation’s studies show that 70 percent of its business results from impulse visits driven by signs and visible brand identity.
Sugar Hill’s Planning and Zoning Department, strictly interpreting existing ordinances, recommended denial of both variance requests. The council, however, is expected to announce whether it will grant the variances at Monday’s monthly meeting, following public hearing.
Chapman, explaining as he did last month that McDonald’s sign and design standards were somewhat inflexible, said after Monday’s work session that he hopes for a favorable outcome. He declined, however, to speculate what, if anything, might come of the existing location in front of Publix, should the variances be denied.
“I got a good vibe from the (Mayor Gary Pirkle),” Chapman said. “I felt positive and still have a good sense (the city) wants to be a good neighbor.”