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The zoning rules a new Chick-fil-A restaurant must follow to build in Salem are “ridiculous,” the Bojangles’ Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits franchise owner who is trying to stall his competitor’s expansion plans said today. But Stan Seymour said he followed them, so Chick-fil-A should, too.
“Nobody should have to follow those laws,” said Seymour, who is also on the November ballot as an independent candidate for the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors in the Cave Spring District. “Maybe they’ll get them off the books now.”
Still, Seymour said, “It’ll hurt my business, so I’m going to slow it down if I can.”
Salem officials announced last week that Chick-fil-A would at last be building a store in Salem in the parking lot of the existing Kmart store on West Main Street, culminating a five-year courtship of the Georgia-based chicken sandwich chain.
Soon after the announcement, Seymour looked at the site plan approved by the Salem zoning administrator and filed an appeal to the Salem Board of Zoning Appeals. Seymour’s complaint is that the restaurant is in violation of zoning laws regarding required parking spaces, building setback distances, and required buffers and landscaping.
Salem officials said today that if the plan wasn't in compliance with zoning laws, it wouldn't have been approved.
"We are satisfied that we have done what we needed to do," said Salem Planning Director Melinda Payne. "We did it consistently with what we have done in the past.”
Asked if he thought Salem officials bent the rules for the Chick-fil-A store, Seymour said, “I’m just saying they wanted it so they didn’t look at the rules.”
Seymour has developed five Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits restaurants in the Roanoke Valley, including one on Main Street in Salem about 1,000 feet from the proposed Chick-fil-A site.
“I’ve followed the rules on all of them,” he said, even though he thinks such rules for landscaping and the like are “anti-business.”
“I’m tired of special favors,” he said, citing that as one reason he’s running for elected office.
“I know that I’ve never been the recipient of them,” he said. “I just feel everybody should follow the same rules.”
Unfavorable comments about Seymour, some calling for a Bojangles' boycott, piled up in spots such as The Roanoke Times’ Facebook page and blogs on roanoke.com today. But Seymour, 59, said he’s not worried about the publicity over his appeal affecting his campaign for the board of supervisors seat.
Seymour, who has described himself as an active Republican, is running as an independent in a three-way race against Republican nominee George Assaid and the incumbent Charlotte Moore, who was elected four years ago as a Democrat but is running as an independent this fall.
“If you do what’s the right thing all the time, you don’t have to worry about it,” Seymour said. “The right thing is, they should follow the same rules.”