Taco bell, insurance agency approved for city

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee City Technical Review Committee approved plans for a new Taco Bell restaurant and a new office for Murray Insurance Thursday.

The Taco Bell restaurant will be located at 501 N.E. Park St. It will measure 2,997 square feet. The project includes lighting, paved parking lot, a drive-thru service, utilities and drainage.

Planning Consultant Bill Brisson said a Sonic restaurant had been proposed for this site.

The building plan was recently reduced to 2,690 square feet which will require 36 parking spaces. He noted a traffic impact study was not required because they don’t expect 100 vehicle trips per hour.

The TRC requested a right turn only out of the restaurant on SR 70.

A Taco Bell representative, Andres Boral, of Maastricht Engineering in Fort Myers said his client wanted full access to the state road. They plan to construct over 300 feet of sidewalk on Northeast Fifth Avenue as the city requires. The restaurant’s breakfast menu accounts for under 7 percent of their daily sales. Two trees in poor condition will be removed. The construction contract will be approved by Dec. 3. They would like the store complete in April. The project will include a right turn only onto SR 70.

Boral said he was pleased to work with the city.

“We are glad this project has been approved and my client is looking forward to getting construction plans approved and move ahead toward construction.”

Boral said he was unsure if the new restaurant would impact the current Taco Bell restaurant on U.S. 441 south. He said normally a new restaurant like this will employ between 15 and 25 people.

He said he would recommend the city to other businesses.

“Everybody at the city of Okeechobee has been extremely helpful, very nice to work with, and very responsive.”

OUA executive director John Hayford said he had concerns about the alleyway on the property that will impact their ability to reach their utility lines.

“Why should the OUA be responsible if improvements are made like landscaping, pavement, etc.” He floated the idea that OUA work might shut down the restaurant drive-thru for a day. He suggested the utility should be held harmless for the loss of revenue to the restaurant.

An alleyway use agreement will likely be developed between Taco Bell and the OUA.

The Murray Insurance building will be located at 210 S.W. Second St. It will measure 1,800 square feet. The lot size is a third of an acre.

Mr. Brisson mentioned the driveway width was 20 feet, while the majority of city driveways measure 24 feet. He also noted additional parking could be needed in the future should the use change. The requirement for an office building is one parking spot per 300 square feet.

Representative for the applicant, Steve Dobbs said the applicant wanted to delay construction of a sidewalk until other sidewalks are constructed.

“This should not be a high traffic generator and should not cause a problem,” he added.

Building official Jeffrey Newell said the building is considered a modular unit with a foundation.

Parks and Recreation director David Allen said the city plans to put on sidewalks in the near future. He requested removal of a sign in the right of way that would be in the middle of the sidewalk. He also questioned the drainage plan. The TRC decided to curve the sidewalk on Southwest Second Street around the sign.

The applicant will provide more details on the lighting plan for the area. The driveway width can remain 20 feet wide.

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