By Rick Pezzullo
It appears anyone craving a Chalupa or a Gordita will soon be able to get their fast food fix at a new Taco Bell in Mohegan Lake.
The Yorktown Planning Board closed a public hearing last week on a drive-thru restaurant on the corner of Route 6 and Mohegan Avenue after being satisfied with traffic patterns and other improvements on the .83-acre site.
In 2007, Yorktown officials approved a four-lot subdivision on the site, including a 4,000-square-foot bank in the same location where the Taco Bell is envisioned. The bank was never built since the property owner was unable to find a tenant. A credit union and daycare facility have occupied the site for years.
In 2018, the Yorktown Town Board rezoned the property to commercial retail, paving the way for an eatery, such as Taco Bell, to seek occupancy.
“The site as designed is functional and works well,” said David Steinmetz, attorney for Taco Bell. “We have taken a close look at traffic.”
During several public hearings in April, a handful of residents in Mohegan Lake made it clear to the Planning Board the 2,000-square-foot Taco Bell was not welcomed in the neighborhood.
“It just doesn’t make sense on that corner,” Jaclyn Guerra, a resident of Lookout Street in Mohegan, said at one hearing. “Taco Bell does cater to a certain clientele we don’t want in the area. It’s popular with drunk drivers. Traffic will just be 10 times worse.”
Joseph Milanese, senior transportation engineer for Sam Schwartz Consulting, a traffic firm retained by the town, said he had no concerns about Taco Bell being situated near the daycare center, but suggested the state Department of Transportation be contacted about reconfiguring the traffic signal on Route 6.
“Taco Bell is one of those restaurants people will travel to,” Milanese remarked.
The Taco Bell in Mohegan would be the third in Yorktown. One has been in business for years at the Yorktown Green Shopping Center, while a second has been approved and is under construction on Route 202.
Planning Board Chairman Richard Fon said town officials have experience with the traffic that can be created by popular fast-food restaurants, having seen the lines of cars on Route 202 when Popeye’s first opened in the BJ’s Shopping Center earlier this year.
An online petition from Concerned Citizens for Mohegan Lake opposing the plan generated 473 signatures.
The Planning Board’s next meeting is October 4.