Tammy Mutasa, NBC 5 Garland Reporter
Residents in Garland are fighting city hall over plans to turn a empty business building into a fast food restaurant, residents say they want to see healthier food options.
Some Garland residents say they want to see fewer new fast food restaurants.
The City Council recently voted 5-4 to allow Chicken Express to open in a vacant office building in South Garland.
But resident Linda McLarty said Garland needs to bring in fewer fast food restaurants and more regular restaurants.
"We need places with healthier food, healthier choices, for children and for adults," McLarty said.
The council approved a zoning change that allows a special-use permit for the fast food restaurant to operate in the building, which has been vacant for three years. The City Council will have a final vote on the zoning change at its next meeting.
Mayor Pro Tem Preston Edwards, who represents the district, said 10 different people looked at the vacant building, but only Chicken Express put up an offer.
"We never take what we can get, but we take what has been given to us, and I will turn down stuff that I don't think is the quality," he said.
Councilman Larry Jeffus voted against the zoning change because local businesses expressed concern about traffic congestion and property values.
"We have enough fast food restaurants in this area," he said. "It would be really nice not to have more of it. Once it's gone to a restaurant, it will always be a restaurant, and in South Garland, we need more office space for professionals."
The number of vacant stores in South Garland is higher than the rest of the city at nearly 30 percent. Edwards said the Chicken Express development is a good place to start.
"This fast food restaurant is a quality restaurant that can come in here," he said. "It's going to benefit the whole area."
McLarty said she will be trying to eat healthier food with her family.
"All it is, is fatty food, and we don't need anymore of that," she said. "We need less."
The restaurant owner told NBC 5 he is excited to expand to Garland and hopes to start construction next month. The restaurant will add about 40 jobs to the location, he said.