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Council Argues About, Finalizes Sizzler BBQs, Murals

A public speaker spurs another City Council discussion about the appropriateness of allowing the Sizzler on El Toro Road to install outdoor barbecues and murals.

Another debate about the El Toro Road  reared its head Tuesday evening when a speaker asked what the council plans to do if other local restaurants ask to install their own outdoor barbecues.

Council members emphatically reiterated their stances on the council's recent narrow decision in favor of allowing the restaurant to install outdoor barbecues and murals before confirming their previous 3-2 vote from its .

Lake Forest resident Vincent Burke asked the council what it would do if Texas Pit BBQ on Raymond Way off of El Toro Road requested that it be allowed to cook steaks outdoor too.

Councilman Mark Tettemer and Peter Herzog used the question as an opportunity to detail again why they continue to oppose allowing Sizzler its outdoor cooking area.

"To in isolation pick one business out and say we want to provide you with special consideration ... I find to be terribly inequitable that we would do that," Tettemer said. He predicted that other Lake Forest restaurants will approach the council to request "the Sizzler exception."

Herzog recalled other corporations who have been denied design requests to keep their look in line with the city's guidelines, including the city's two Home Depot stores and McDonald's on Bridger Road.

He called the council's vote a "sad event" in the city's history.

"The other thing about this is, we're not actually treating our businesses in town fairly," he added. Herzog said that he believes that the city's "design guidelines" are why the development of the El Toro Road corridor has been successful.

Councilwoman Marcia Rudolph said that she is unconcerned about the potential of other businesses requesting that they be allowed to barbecue outside as well.

"If there are other people out there that want to do it and they are willing to pay the money and go through the hoops ... so be it," Rudolph said. "There comes a point at which it isn't chicken little the sky is falling ... we're [not] going to have 45 million applications."

She also emphasized that recommendations from the Planning Commission—such as the one against allowing Sizzler the barbecues and murals which the council overturned with its vote—are merely suggestions, and not "set in stone."

Rudolph said the council's action isn't unprecedented: it recently overturned another commission recommendation to allow to .

Mayor Pro Tem Scott Voigts agreed with Rudolph that the city is unlikely to witness a swarm of local restauranteurs interested in cooking outdoors. The city of Lake Forest should be "more compliant" toward corporations' requests, he added.

Tuesday's meeting was the final time the council is expected to formally address Sizzler's requests.

Informed Citizen May 03, 2012 at 05:24 PM
So rather than address the guidelines themselves so that they are equally applied to ALL businesses in town, the Council thinks it is better to make further businesses "pay the money and go through the hoops"? How is this the business friendly decision the proponents of the decision on Council claim it is, in moving Lake Forest to be "compliant toward corporations' requests"?
Greg May 07, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Another non sequitur comment from "Uninformed Citizen." To repeat a comment I made in a previous story, the guidelines are applied to all businesses in town. The City Council simply chose to overrule the Planning Commission's ridiculous, and subjective, decision (as is its power as the final arbiter of land use and zoning decisions) such as comparing an outdoor BBQ pit to a sign holder. The very few criticizing this decision by the Council majority are conveniently ignoring the fact that many of the guidelines are subjectively applied. The elected City Council is given the power to overrule the unelected Planning Commission. If the residents do not like the decisions the Council is making, they can vote them out of office. The City Council is the only check on the unelected Planning Commission and I am glad they are finally starting to take that responsibility seriously with the new blood of Scott Voigts, and tried and true conservatives like Ms. Rudolph.

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