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Bonita Springs gets a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, a fast food restaurant known for its spicy fried chicken, after months of debate.

City council gave its final approval on Monday amending zoning rules to allow the popular restaurant to open at the chosen site in the United States.

The Bonita Springs location would be the first Popeyes in southern Lee County.

The future restaurant site is within walking distance of four other fast food restaurants. This proximity has been the main obstacle to development.

According to Bonita Springs zoning rules, each new establishment must be located more than 500 feet from other fast food outlets, except under “exceptional or extraordinary conditions”.

City staff and the Bonita Springs Zoning Council have said the Popeyes Restaurant does not meet city requirements. The city council voted otherwise.

The 500-foot rule was created to ensure the area remains diverse, said Mike Fiigon, a town planner from Bonita Springs.

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“The idea is not to have a row of fast food restaurants or a row of car dealerships,” Fiigon said.

A Wendy’s can be found adjacent to the property along the north. KFC’s fried chicken restaurant rival is two buildings to the south. McDonald’s and Dunkin ‘Donuts are spread across the United States 41.

A Burger King opened on the future Popeyes property in 1986 and operated for 20 years before Citibank bought the building. The bank eventually left, leaving the building vacant since 2015.

Because it was originally a fast food restaurant, the 500-foot rule shouldn’t apply to new Popeyes, said Steven Hartsell, representative of the developer.

“You can see the confusion because it has been used as a fast food restaurant for 20 years,” Hartsell said. “We just want to reestablish a fast food restaurant in an old fast food restaurant. “

The city council agreed, voting in favor of the developer.

“Welcome, Popeyes,” Mayor Peter Simmons said.

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The accord is accompanied by aesthetic changes. The building’s prolonged vacancy left the landscaping neglected and the grounds messy.

The developer is committed to modernizing the landscaping and creating a new facade that requires approval from municipal authorities.

The closest Popeyes to Bonita’s location is over 20 miles in Fort Myers or Immokalee. A location in East Naples is under construction along Collier Boulevard south of Collier Plaza and is expected to open in early 2019.

The Bonita Springs location will be the fourth Popeyes by developer Action Business Corp. The Belle Glade-based company has other fast food restaurants.

A front road running alongside US 41 would serve as the entrance and exit from Popeyes to Bonita Springs, so no traffic impact is expected on the main road, the developers said.

Popeyes was founded in the New Orleans suburbs in 1972 and today has more than 2,600 restaurants around the world.


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