Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

McDonald's Gets Caught Up in Illinois Food Fight

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

McDonald's Gets Caught Up in Illinois Food Fight

Article excerpt

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- This Chicago suburb, which lies in moneyed repose along Lake Michigan, is embroiled in a food fight.

McDonald's Corp. wants to erect what some view as a declasse fast- food restaurant within Lake Forest's city limits.

Last fall, some residents, saying McDonald's would produce too much traffic, persuaded the city to block the restaurant. The company sued. Lake Forest officials now worry that their legal fight will cost $100,000 to $150,000.

"It is unfair the way they (McDonald's) are treating us," said Lake Forest resident Linda Rosenberg, who eats at other McDonald's restaurants but says she's worried about increased traffic. "It is unfortunate and rude of them."

If the experience of other communities that took on the world's biggest fast-food chain is any indication, tiny Lake Forest -- population 18,774 -- is fighting not only a costly but a losing battle.

When McDonald's meets resistance from communities concerned about traffic, architectural aesthetics or overall suitability, the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company usually wins.

McDonald's spokeswoman Julie Cleary said the company won't comment about community opposition. In general, Cleary said, "It is important that wherever we open a restaurant, it is at the top of our mind to be a good neighbor."

Those who take on the burger meister see it differently.

At first, McDonald's seemed willing to compromise in Lake Forest. Its restaurant design had no drive-through window nor three-story golden arches. The building would look more like a cedar-shingled clubhouse at a golf course than a burger joint. The architect said it would cost a great deal more to build than the typical strip-mall design.

When the Lake Forest city commission voted to reject the proposal, however, McDonald's filed the lawsuit -- and its recent settlement proposal brings back the clubhouse design, with a possible drive- through if revenue doesn't meet projections.

In the historic Woods Hole area of Falmouth, Mass., residents are taking on McDonald's in a similar struggle.

Several people are suing to keep out what the company calls a "cafe" and what some locals say is really a fast-food restaurant that violates zoning laws. …

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