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Wendy’s approved by planning panel

Fans of Frostys and square burgers will be able to get their Baconator fix in Grass Valley.

The Grass Valley Planning Commission on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve development of a Wendy’s drive-thru restaurant at 875 Sutton Way.

The fast food chain will demolish and replace the building that is now Paulette’s Country Kitchen, reducing the size and adding 250 feet of outdoor eating space.



Owner of Paulette’s, Paulette Rickard, said last month that she is selling the building and retiring after 30 years.

Wendy’s will join at least a half dozen other fast food chain restaurants in what’s sometimes known as Grass Valley’s “Burger Basin



While the commission found the project met all requirements, it expressed interest in examining the policy decision that allows drive-thru restaurant chains in Central Business and Heavy Commercial zones.

“There just seems to be a real proliferation of that particular type of restaurant in that small area,” Commissioner Greg Bulanti said of the Glenbrook Basin.

According to Community Development Director Tom Last, since the issue was last addressed through development code updates in 2007, there haven’t been additional drive-thru chains added to the area, and some have closed.

Last said updates to the city’s development code may be brought before the commission and City Council this year, time and staff constraints allowing.

Commissioners also expressed concerns over potential traffic issues from having a drive-thru in a “bottleneck” area.

Although the drive-thru at Paulette’s has only been used since the pandemic began, because the building’s use is not changing, a traffic study was not required.

“A restaurant that’s predominantly a seat-in restaurant is a little bit different in terms of traffic than one that is a fast food restaurant,” Bulanti said

Per city policy, if the new project does not generate more than 63 evening peak hour trips, a traffic study is not used, Last said.

Principal Planner Lance Lowe said any traffic issues would be rectified through development impact fees, which fund the city’s capital improvement program. Lowe described the capital improvement program as a kind of five-year to-do list of projects around the city.

According to Last, the Wendy’s developer has not given any indications for when the restaurant could open.

Speaking to public concerns about allowing a corporation to replace a local small business, a representative for the developer told the commission their franchise would be “family owned and operated.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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