ABINGDON, Va. — Abingdon Town Council wants to talk “as soon as possible” about the appeal of the approval of a Pal’s Sudden Service at The Meadows in Abingdon.
On Thursday, council spent seven minutes discussing what’s next after five members of the Friends of Abingdon filed a formal appeal of the town Planning Commission’s decision to award a certificate of appropriateness for the fast-food restaurant, which is slated for construction on an outparcel of the development at Exit 17.
“I don’t know how the rest of you council feels, but I feel we should hear the appeal as soon as possible, because we’ve been accused of not being business-friendly,” Mayor Wayne Craig said during the work session.
Do you think Pal's should be allowed to build its typical teal building on The Meadows property in Abingdon?
Five members of a citizens group are appealing approval of a Pal’s Sudden Service at The Meadows in Abingdon because they don’t like the signature teal color and design of the drive-thru, leading Pal’s CEO to threaten to pull out if the original plans are not honored.
Members of the citizens group say the trademark teal blue color and design of the drive-thru building would not coordinate with other structures in the development and would not follow the town’s zoning codes.
“The reason we filed this was because we believe that the town of Abingdon should respect and uphold its ordinances, permits and its contracts,” Friends member Joe LeVine said during a recess from Thursday’s meeting.
“The appeal is not because of the color — the appeal is because, as passed, the COA — certificate of appropriateness — violates at least one section of the zoning ordinance,” said LeVine, who moved to Abingdon six years ago.
“The Planning Commission should not have the authority or the right to say, ‘Well, we’re going to enforce them for this guy, and we’re going to waive them for this guy,’” he added.
On Wednesday, Pal’s CEO Thom Crosby issued a statement to the Bristol Herald Courier in response to questions about the appeal, saying he would pull out of the construction if the original plans — approved on May 20 — were not honored.
Also on Wednesday, Town Manager Jimmy Morani — who is out of town this week — said a public hearing may be held on the matter.
At Thursday’s work session, Craig asked the town’s acting legal counsel, Cameron Bell, if a public hearing is necessary.
“I do not think that a public hearing is technically required under this particular ordinance,” Bell said.
“Council, what — do you want to have a public hearing?” Craig asked.
“I think you can just look on Facebook,” replied Town Councilman Derek Webb. “It’s public hearing all over Facebook today. People are talking about burning trash cans if we don’t get Pal’s — and angry mobs. Seriously, have you read it?”
Ultimately, on Thursday, council decided to address the matter at its July 1 meeting.
“Council will hear this as an appellate body, essentially,” Bell said. “There will be a standard review, essentially, to look at the Planning Commission’s decision.”
The Planning Commission approved the certificate in a 4-1 vote, with commission member Wayne Austin opposing.
“There was extensive discussion at the Planning Commission level about the design,” Bell said. “The issue seems to be primarily in the appeal of the color of the building itself.”
LeVine said he likes the teal color of the Pal’s buildings.
“I want the Pal’s to be built in Abingdon,” he said. “If the only place in Abingdon they’ll build is at The Meadows, then either the Pal’s needs to meet the ordinances and regulations and contracts. Or the town of Abingdon needs to change those ordinances, contracts and permits to allow it. But I think it’s just a mistake to violate ordinances. Everybody should be treated equally by the town.”