Tempers flared and arguments continued as approximately 25 supporters of the proposed IHOP on Gunbarrel Road, developers for the project and those in opposition gathered at the Hamilton Family YMCA for a community meeting regarding the project.
"This is the first time that we've faced opposition," said IHOP representative Marla Chaliff. "We're usually met with open arms because of all the reasons we've listed."
Trilogy Group Development partner David Shanahan, who is working with property owner Bassam Issa to rezone his Gunbarrel Road property from R4 to C2 to allow the development of an IHOP restaurant which violates the Hamilton Place Land Use Plan, listed reasons in support of having an IHOP at that location during the meeting. Those reasons included it fitting with surrounding businesses and restaurants, that it would have no drive-through, no alcohol service and no new curb cuts, peak restaurant hours not coinciding with peak traffic flow on Gunbarrel Road and the fact that the Gunbarrel Road location is the only one suitable after eight years of searching.
To move forward with the project, City Council must approve the rezoning, which Councilman Jack Benson said will not happen. The fact remains that rezoning the property to build an IHOP identical to the new one on Brainerd Road violates the land use plan.
"Our issue is just one thing," he said. "If we break it one place, we're going to have to break it other places."
Issa and Shanahan pointed out that the R4 zoning the property is currently zoned under allows a restaurant to be built under the condition that it is on the bottom floor of a four-story office building, which Issa said he thinks is more intrusive than the IHOP they are proposing.
Benson said the land use plan, which originally cost approximately $160,000 to create, is slated to be revisited next year.
Over the course of the meeting he also stated he will not meet with Issa again about the project.
"I've talked to him dozens of times and he won't take no for an answer," said Benson.