Garland Doctor Loses Fast Food Fight

City finalizes plans for Chicken Express to move into vacant building

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Some residents are upset that the city of Garland voted in favor of allowing another fast food restaurant in South Garland. (Published Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012)

    The city is allowing a fast food restaurant into South Garland despite strong opposition from a dermatologist and dozens of residents.

    Dr. Lisa Garner led a long fight against allowing Chicken Express to take over a vacant building next to her practice.

    "I was very concerned that this was not the appropriate location for a fast food drive-thru restaurant as far as convincing more doctors and physicians to come into the South Garland area," she said.

    But the City Council approved a zoning ordinance change that lets Chicken Express move in. It passed 7-2 on Tuesday night.

    "It was the hardest zoning case I have ever had," Mayor Pro Tem Preston Edwards said.

    Garner addressed the City Council several times and petitioned area businesses about property values and traffic congestion.

    "I feel somewhat betrayed," she said.

    "I think it's important that we stay involved in our community," said Garner, who has had her practice in South Garland for 26 years. "If you don't like what's being developed and what's changing, then you need to speak up."

    Edwards said the move was the best redevelopment decision for a building that has been empty for three years.

    "I thought it was a win-win situation," he said. "It will improve the value of the property around there. It is a proven fact that when you have an empty building, it brings the whole area down."

    South Garland has a retail vacancy rate of 30 percent.

    But some residents said fast food is not always the answer.

    "I don't think we need another fast food restaurant," Joshua Perez said. "I think Garland has plenty of fast food restaurants."

    The Chicken Express owner told NBC 5 he is happy to move into Garland. He said he would invest about $1 million in the building on improvements.