BALTIMORE — Neighbors continue their fight against a proposed Checker's drive-thru saying it's an unhealthy eating option for their community.
The area's newest fight is against Zoning Appeal 2020-133, to construct a restaurant with a drive thru facility at 2600 Gwynns Falls Parkway.
Neighbors tell WMAR-2 News the proposed facility is on a busy intersection, which would make entering and exiting the site difficult and dangerous for those utilizing the facility.
"When you start changing zoning you open up this whole area for fast foods. We don’t want that," said Mary Hughes.
"We have elementary school just down the street where the kids walk past there," said Adeline Hutchinson
"We have Black homeowners in this community, one of the few communities that has Black homeowners in it and we don’t want to see anything that’s going to lower the property value here," said Lawrence Bell.
Community members and neighborhoods recently sent the city 20 letters opposing the zoning appeal.
"It's like they're not listening," said Lawrence Bell. "We want to change that."
The letters addressed various concerns. Residents outlined the following arguments:
- Increased traffic/congestion. The median that runs along Tioga Parkway would make it mandatory that traffic be routed into the residential area in order to access the drive-through. Overflow would spill into the neighboring residential community and cause increased congestion at the light on that intersection.
- Littering. The outdoor facilities would highly increase the amount of trash and litter left on the streets, greatly affecting the aesthetic of the community, and placing an unnecessary burden on the residents who would now be responsible for cleaning up the trash of others that blows onto their property. With a predominantly senior population, it is likely that much of the trash blown into the surrounding community would be left outside of residences.
- Decreased property values. According to the article "The Price of Access: Capitalization of Neighborhood Contextual Factors" in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, "neighborhood context, especially access to fruit and vegetable outlets, is capitalized into, or associated with, higher housing values. Fast food and convenience store access are associated with lower housing values." And "a 10 percent rise in the density of fast-food chains is associated with $625 lower home values ($884 in 2012 dollars)."
- Proximity to Residences. The Checkers would sit directly adjacent to residential homes, drastically affecting the living space of the homeowners.
- Loitering. This establishment would be placed directly in the path of the numerous schoolchildren walking to and from school. The outdoor area would promote loitering practices targeted toward these school-aged children.
- Promotion of unhealthy eating habits. The surrounding communities have made it a point to increase healthy food options within the community, especially in the creation of various community gardens. These efforts, that have taken considerable time, investment, and care, would be directly undermined with the placement of a Checkers establishment at this location.
WMAR-2 News reached out to the city regarding the zoning appeal and status of the project. A spokesperson told WMAR it is working to gather more information on the project and will get back to us.
In the meantime, residents say they'll continue to fight for what's right.
"We're not giving up," said Lawrence Bell.
"I know of no other race of people than Black people who fight like we fight for our community," said Mary Hughes.