Residents living along and near American Legion Highway in Roslindale were in no mood to think outside the bun this evening: They told a Taco Bell franchisee in no uncertain terms they don't want its restaurant smushed into the space between the Wendy's and the Haley School.
At a meeting of the Mount Hope Mount Canterbury Neighborhood Association, residents voted 59-0 to oppose the proposed 50-seat outlet with 25 parking spaces and a drive-through on the parcel now occupied by a seasonal ice-cream stand. For good measure, residents voted by the same margin against 24-hour operation and the drive-through.
Residents cited the added traffic and the sort of slobs jwho already frequent the road's numerous other fast-food joints on their way someplace else and leave nearby streets a trash-strewn mess. Among the other outlets on that stretch of American Legion: McDonald's, Popeye's, KFC, Little Caesar's, Dunkin' Donuts, Simco's and Wendy's.
Association organizer Rick Yoder said he's tired of the area being treated like "a dumping ground for things other neighborhoods don't want" - such as a large concentration of fast-food outlets. "This is the place to put fast-restaurants," he said. "It's called 'the greater good.' It's not good for us."
Residents worried in particular about the impact on students at the Haley School: They said many walk to school and already have to dodge a fair amount of traffic. The Taco Bell's driveway, right next to the school, would only make their walks that much more treacherous, they said.
One resident said the smells from the restaurant would keep the kids from studying. "That's heartless," he said, pointing to the Popeye's, which he said "stinks all over the place."
John Willis, a regional manager for Charter Foods, the Tennessee franchisee that has a lease agreement for the property, however, said that's simply not the case, because Taco Bell only fries a small number of items first thing in the morning. "We're not frying burgers and we're not frying steaks," he said.
Willis said his company prides itself on maintaining immaculate grounds and that managers walk the parking lot at least once an hour to pick up trash. Residents replied it's not the immediate grounds they're worried about but the trash dumped out the windows of cars speeding away from the area.
If the company goes ahead with its plans, it will need to go before both the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Boston Licensing Board - both of which would require the company to meet again with neighbors.
Willis said it would only take about two months to construct the new Taco Bell.