Chick-fil-A requesting canopies for outdoor-working employees

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At its locations nationwide, Chick-fil-A has been working to protect employees from harsh weather when working outdoors in the fast-food restaurant’s drive-thru lanes with the installation of permanent canopies.

A proposal has come before Noblesville government to make the change at the restaurant at 14098 Bergen Blvd. in the Saxony Corporate Campus, near Exit 210.

Petitioner and owner PB&J Prop Exchange, LLC, is requesting the construction of two canopies and additional landscaping.

At the Sept. 10 Noblesville Common Council meeting, Noblesville Development Services Manager Joyceann Yelton presented the ordinance.

“Chick-fil-A has employees that take orders while standing out in the weather, and this is one of the ways they have provided protection to those individuals,” she said. “One (canopy) would be along the drive-thru, along the south side of the building where employees stand outside and take orders. The other canopy is along the pick-up side of the building. Underneath the canopies there are some recessed lights. There are also heaters and fans that would protrude. However, those will be powder-coated or ordered in a color that matches the canopy, so you won’t have a silver fan underneath. It will be dark bronze or black.”

The Noblesville Plan Commission, which discussed the request at its August meeting, passed the request on to the common council with a 9-1 favorable recommendation.

Common Councilor Darren Peterson, who serves as the council’s liaison to the plan commission, was the commission’s lone vote against the request.

“This was designed to be a dine-in and pick-up window restaurant, and it’s now turned in to an outdoor sales car-hop situation. I think there are some safety concerns of putting employees out in the parking lot,” Peterson said. “The cars are in drive, its at the busiest time of the day, and I think we’re setting a precedent for other quick-serve restaurants (to bring) like-businesses to bring the same visual clutter and safety concerns.”

Steve Hartman, owner-operator of the restaurant, said he hopes the council will approve the addition of the canopies primarily for safety of his employees. He said that having them work inside significantly slows service times.

“I certainly understand concerns about safety. It’s one of the reasons we’re hoping to be able to add the canopy,” Hartman said. “The recessed lighting will help dramatically around dusk and (the fans will help) with temperature and heat. When we’re not able to have our folks outside, the degree to which lines are slowed is dramatic, 40 to 45 percent in a single hour. We’re hopeful to be able to continue to provide great service to the people of Noblesville and Hamilton County, in general, by adding these canopies.”

Because the ordinance was only and introduction, no action was taken. Final approval will be given at a future meeting.


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