In-N-Out Burger's proposal got through the city of Novato's Design Review Commission with minimal suggested changes, according to a story in the Marin Independent Journal, and the next step should be a formality.
However, the topic of traffic in the Vintage Oaks Shopping Center and the surrounding areas are expected could continue despite a possible rubber-stamping of the project at the Oct. 17 meeting of the Design Review Commission. Since there is no rezoning of the property use involved, In-N-Out should be able to proceed after that second meeting, the IJ reported.
In-N-Out proposes to demolish an existing Burger King and construct a new building at the same location, just east of Highway 101 with a clear view for highway drivers. The Design Review Commission only deals with architecture and other aesthetic elements of a project, traffic concerns would have to be brought up at a Novato City Council meeting.
Traffic at the restaurant itself isn't much of an issue. Senior planner Stephen Marshall said several members of the Design Review Commission commented that In-N-Out did a nice job of increasing the vehicle capacity of the drive-through area and accommodating on-site vehicle circulation. But concerns about backups on Rowland Way and Vintage Way and even the northbound offramp of Highway 101 at Rowland Boulevard have been brough up at past city meetings and in multiple Patch stories about the proposal.
If you're interested in the building's design, have a look at the attached staff reports prepared by the city's planning staff.
In-N-Out announced that it was targeting Novato for a new restaurant in April 2011. It pinpointed a spot in Ignacio, site of a garden center and adjacent oil changing shop, and presented its plan at a public workshop in August 2011. Neighbors in that area immediately spoke up about the noise, lighting and traffic that would cause problems at that location. Eric Lucan, then a candidate for Novato City Council (and eventually successful at winnng a seat) wrote an opinion piece for Novato Patch about the pros and cons of having In-N-Out at that location.
In May, In-N-Out backed out of that plan and said it would continue to look for a prime location in Novato. It settled on Vintage Oaks because the company prefers high-visibility locations and looks for “dynamic, high activity areas near retail mass, freeway locations, major intersections and commercial shopping center pads,” according to company literature. It also likes “easy ingress/egress, ability to use our 'classic' image.”
What are your thoughts about traffic in the area? Share a comment below.